Summary of a number of articles and an interview in Billed Bladet #35, 2013.
All written by Ulrik Ulriksen.
Before the situation became even more dramatic in the region Mary visited a refugee camp in Jordan, as patron for Danish Refugee council. (*) The camp she visited is the largest camp in Jordan and the second largest refugee camp in the world, housing at present some 120.000 refugees. (**)
Here Mary was taken on a tour of a part of the camp. Jordanian security and military presence was heavy as a demonstration had turned violent just the day before. As such it made Jordanian security very nervous when Mary, who was going from one part of the camp to another, decided to go down a kind of main street and came face to face with refugees who had not been vetted in advance.
A crowd gathered around her as the refugees quickly realized that Mary was an important (foreign) person. It was also here a mother somewhat surprisingly put a child in the arms of Mary. A six month old girl named Tuchtuch. Unsurprisingly the girl cried and Mary handed her back to the mother: "You'd better taker her back, after all she doesn't know me".
Mary also met a number of mothers in a centre in the camp labelled: Child friendly space". Basically a place where women in relative calm and neutral surroundings can meet and talk with other mothers or just get away from it all for a short while. (Things can understandebly become very stressful within the families from time to time).
Mary also met some children in a kind of school tent. Even though there is no schooling to speak of it has some therapeutic effect that the semblance of a school give the children a little sense of normality and of the daily routine, that has been disrupted. - And it's also a way for the children to get away from it all for a couple of hours. And drawing in particular is good way for the children to went the feelings penned up inside them.
She also had an opportunity to talk to or rather listen to the stories by some of the women, something that visibly moved Mary.
Cutting the stay in the camp short due to a demonstration the delegation drove back to the Jordanian capital Amman, and to a women's shelter there.
Here Mary and the Minister for Development, Christian Friis Back, watched a local adaption of a Danish play called: Mothers and daughters. With women from the shelter as actors. The play is about women being abused in various ways and how to deal with it.
At the shelter Mary had a long chat with a number of the women, many if not most were foreign some coming as far away as Bangladesh. And it's the usual story with women in a foreign country, with limited knowledge of the culture and the language being mistreated. Jordan is not the only country where "import-wives" risk being treated worse than dogs. That's a global problem. And the stories were just as well known as they were horrific.
The centre is working closely with the Danish organisation KVINFO. (For: KVinde INFOrmation = information for women).
Later on the delegation visited a ressource centre which offer financial support to Syrian refugees. As mentioned in my note below many Syrian refugees can't even find room in the rapidly expanding refugee camps, but must fend for themselves. Among the refugees they met here and whose stories they learned about was 80 year old Aysha, who wept at Mary's shoulder. All in all a sobering experience!
The visit ended with a visit to the Jordanian Ministry for Development and the Foreign Ministry where Mary had lunch with the Foreign Minister, Nasser Joudeh.
- To my surprise Mary did not meet members of the JRF, but perhaps they have a different set of protocols?
The interview follow in the second part.
(*) Danish Refugee Council and Danish Red Cross are among the very few relief organisations allowed to work inside Syria. - Which makes it an even more brilliant idea that the Danish government still to this moment appear willing to take part in a military action against Syria. Because we all know that bombs are much more helpful for civilians than relief organisations...
(**) I understand that only one fifth of the Syrian refugees in Jordan live in camps. The rest live with relatives, are housed privatly, live in rented homes or simply living in the streets.