British Astronaut, Major Tim Peake was welcomed by Prime Minister Theresa May to 10 Downing Street following his six month mission on the International Space Station and met children including North-East teenager Zak Hughes.
Imagine the surprise in the Hughes household when Zac received a message from the Prime Minister’s Office to meet the P.M. and Tim Peake, recently returned to earth!
Zac had entered a national competition to describe in 300 words a photograph, to be taken from space, of somewhere on earth. His powerful description of the Al Zaatari refugee camp and his desire to see governments work together to rebuild the city in which the homes of so many thousands of people had been destroyed, won first prize , chosen as the best of thousands of entries.
His winning entry is attached below – our new government would do well to reflect on 13 year old Zac ‘s wise words.
I would like to compare a recent photo of AI Zaatari to one from five years ago to see how much the camp has grown. The AI Zaatari refugee camp opened in 2012, initially as home to one hundred families.
Within one year it became the fifth largest “city” in Jordan and now it is the fourth. Dorte Jessen, who coordinates WFP’s food assistance programmes for Syrian refugees in Jordan, said “in the beginning there was nothing there except a desert with moon-like dust and shrubs.” It is now home to over 80,000 refugees 75 of which are women and children.
The camp was constructed by the Jordanian government and international agencies as part of a massive emergency response after the civil war started in Syria in 2011. Approximately 80 babies are born a day in the camp, so it is expanding rapidly. Inside the camp there are schools, hospitals, shops and other things you would expect tofind in a permanent town or city but access to services is difficult for people and life is not always safe. Many children in the camp say they want to be engineers lawyers carpenters and other important careers, in order to rebuild Syria. People want to return to their home. I would hope that if a photo was taken in the same place in 5 years time the camp wouldn’t be there because the refugees would have been able to return home.
I think that the Governments of the world should work together to help to end the conflict in Syria and help people to return to Syria and rebuild what has been destroyed. I think people would be shocked to see the size of the camp and just how many people have been forced to leave their homes.