In Za'atari refugee camp, near the Syrian border in northern Jordan, a bustling market made up of barber shops, video game arcades, mobile phone stores and more is thriving, serving a resourceful population of almost 100,000 forcibly displaced people. What started out as a few shops selling second-hand clothing has developed into a shopper's delight of nearly 3,000 stores scattered across the camp. For locals strolling through what they dub the "Champs-Élysées," front load washers, pet birds, rotisserie chickens, lingerie and wedding dresses are just some of the diverse products on offer.
A UNHCR staff member who often visits the camp says all of the shops are illegal but tolerated, and the commerce has the added benefit of creating job opportunities and a more dynamic camp. Residents spend an estimated US$12 million in the camp's shopping district monthly. "Before it was really hard, but things are progressing and people are improving their shops," says Hamza, the co-owner of the Zoby Nut Shop. Photographer Shawn Baldwin visited the camp recently to capture its booming entrepreneurial spirit.
In the semi-rural area of Kherbet Al-Souk, on the outskirts of Amman, Syrian refugees struggling to get their children into crowded state schools have taken matters into their own hands. They have set up a simple school in their small informal settlement of about 500 refugees. The families had lived in Za'atri or Al-Aghwar camps, but moved out to be closer to other relatives and to access basic services in the capital. But ensuring education for all refugee children in Jordan has proved difficult for the government and its partners, including UNHCR. According to the UN, more than half of all Syrian refugee children in Jordan are not in school. In Kherbet Al-Souk, the refugee-run school consists of a large tent where the students sit on the ground with their text books. All of the students take classes together with the younger children in the front. Before, they spent a lot of time playing, but they were not learning anything. One refugee, Jamal, decided to do something about it. Photographer Shawn Baldwin met Jamal and visited the school in a tent. These are some of the images he took.
Much of the media coverage of Syrian refugees in Jordan has focused on the tens of thousands of people in settlements like Za'atri. But more than 80 per cent of arrivals live outside the camps, and are facing a mounting struggle to survive. After three years of conflict, they are finding it increasingly difficult to put a roof over their head, pay the bills and provide an education for their children.
Many have found homes near their point of entry, in the north of Jordan; often in disrepair, some still within earshot of shelling from across the border. Others have gone further south, looking for more affordable accommodation in Amman, Aqaba, Karak and the Jordan Valley. While most rent houses and apartments, a minority live in informal shelters.
From 2012-2013, UNHCR and the International Relief and Development non-governmental organization conducted more than 90,000 home visits to understand the situations of Syrian families and provide assistance where needed. The resulting report is an unprecedented look at the challenges 450,000 Syrians face when living outside the camps in Jordan, as they fight to make a new life far from home. Photographer Jared Kohler captured the life of some of these refugees.