Local Environmental Action Makes A World of Difference: Working Together to Welcome Ramadan in Baqa’a Camp

13 May 2019
Cooperation between sanitation laborers and local community as they clean Baqa'a refugee camp together to welcome the holy month of Ramadan. @ 2019 UNRWA photo by Daniah Al-Batayneh

It’s 8:00 am in Amman, Jordan. Just inside Baqa’a refugee camp, south of the capital city, activities are already in full swing in preparation of the holy month of Ramadan. Residents of Baqa’a join sanitation laborers and staff from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to celebrate International Worker’s Day in style this year. Together they will clean the camp!

Baqa’a camp is the largest of thirteen Palestine refugee camps in Jordan. Established in 1968 to accommodate those who were forced to leave the West Bank and Gaza following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the camp hosts more than 124,000 people in 1.4 square kilometers.

The UNRWA sanitation campaign in Baqa’a camp is a kickoff event for several more similar activities across Palestine refugee camps in Jordan during Ramadan. Preparation from this festive month usually includes giving the family home a deep spring cleaning and then decorating it to usher in the holy month. By rolling up their sleeves together, residents, sanitation laborers and UNRWA staff worked to ensure that this Ramadan will be a month of freshness and beauty.

 “Garbage usually piles up during Ramadan,” said Jameel Jamal, a sanitation laborer in Baqa’a camp. “Having people from the community and UNRWA help us is really uplifting and makes us feel that we are not alone.”

The role of sanitation laborers is crucial in maintaining not just the cleanliness of camps, but also the overall environmental health conditions. In 2018, UNRWA faced the biggest financial challenge of its history, forcing it to cut position, amongst which were those of many daily paid sanitation laborers. Today, thanks to generous funding by the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), UNRWA is able to hire more sanitation laborers, in time for celebrate Ramadan.

“Ramadan is about sharing happy moments and spreading positive values,” said Mr. Mohammed Adar, Director of UNRWA Operations in Jordan. “It means so much to us that UNRWA is able to contribute to this feeling of prosperity by providing additional jobs and participating in cleaning activities that improve the daily lives of Palestine refugees in Baqa’a.”