Sinn MEP and Derry woman, Martina Anderson, recounts experience of visit to Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

Sinn Fein MEP and Derry woman, Martina Anderson, pictured with some of the young children in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan at the weekend.'
Sinn Fein MEP and Derry woman, Martina Anderson, pictured with some of the young children in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan at the weekend.'

Nothing could prepare Sinn Fein MEP and Derry woman, Martina Anderson, for what she would witness when she visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan last week.

The camp is located less than four miles away from the border with Syria and is full of men, women and children who have fled the country.

“Whilst you mentally prepare yourself for what you might see in places like Zaatari, you cannot put a coat of armour around your head and heart,” said Ms. Anderson.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ from Jordan, Ms. Anderson described the camp as a “prison”. Adding that she had met with women who had been repeatedly raped, she said: “The camp is like a prison with currently 80,000 refugees - 430,000 have passed through it however most of the refugees are outside the camp in the urban area around Jordan

“People are frustrated most simply want to go home but realise that the civil war in Syria is not near an end.

“There are different views of the different groups and the regime but all I spoke with said if ISIS get control then the ‘gates of hell will open’.” she said.

She added: “The case of one women’s treated by ISIS left an lasting impression - her three brothers were ordered to rape her - the oldest brother refused and he was beheaded, the second brother refused and he too was beheaded the three brother said he would - the terror around them was horrific - as he was on top of his sister - they killed him dragged him off her and then all the soldiers raped her. It was utterly barbaric and whilst there is a hospital in the camp there are not the services needed to help women like her,” said Ms. Anderson.

Ms. Anderson also met many children and young people during her visit.

“There are two schools and in the morning the boys attend and in the afternoon the girls - the children want out of the prison they live. They want to go home.

“They are loving lively children but unfortunately there is not enough food and there is an electricity shortage, the camp is infested with rats and their families are frustrated.”

Ms. Anderson flew back home late last night. She said the entire world must put aside political differences to help the people affected by the war in Syria.

“Let us all be clear - the refugee crisis has been induced by the West and the international community must do all that it can to help these refugees.”