As the conflict drags on in their home country, some Syrian refugees living in Jordan’s al-Zaatari camp have turned their tents into temporary shops selling goods needed to make camp dwellers' lives easier.
The refugees in al-Zaatari say there are approximately two shops in each pathway among the tents selling a wide range of goods varying from food to electronics and kitchenware.
Some shop keepers say they opened their shops in response to the needs of camp residents, to provide a healthier choice of food.
Sixteen-year-old Ahmad Naeem said he wanted to serve people with certain illnesses who cannot eat food provided by charities.
“Because there are people suffering diabetics and other illnesses, so they cannot eat rice and the food they bring. Of course, we will bring vegetables, other items as there are people who cannot eat the food they bring for us. This is the only reason,” Naeem told Reuters.
But for others, the need to earn a living was their motivation behind opening the tent shops.
“It’s the lack of money, as they say. There is no financial source to sell and buy and eat and drink. There is plenty of food to eat, but they bring only one kind. One is obliged to change sometimes,” said Yousef Ghuzlan.
Despite the increasing numbers of shops at the camp, shop keepers say they are doing well.
“No, thank God there are no problems. People come and buy goods. And things are working,” said Naeem, from Deraa.
For customers, the shops are helping to improve the living conditions in the camp.
“The situation in the camp is improving in terms of roads and living conditions. And
these shops have saved us so much effort. We used to suffer until we got something we asked for from outside such as a charger for a phone, vegetables, glasses,” said a Syrian refugee who turned his back to the camera to hide his identity.
The al-Zaatari camp, 80 kilometers north east of Amman, was opened in late July in an attempt to regulate aid efforts to Syrian refugees, according to Jordanian officials and aid agencies.
Dusty weather and poor facilities at the camp, however, have been major complaints by the refugees.