UNICEF director offers insight into refugee camp city
UNICEF UK’s deputy executive director impressed undergraduates with tales of her recent trip to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which has its own ATM cash machines and is set to receive a solar panel plant costing 20 million dollars.
Lily Caprani was speaking at the fifth UEL undergraduate conference on sustainable development, which brought together around 100 students, activists and academics for a day of presentations and networking.
Ms Caprani told an attentive audience about the hope she found in the 81,000-strong camp run by the United Nations.
“It’s like a huge city,” she said. “I saw refugee children going to school, including girls, to get an education right in the middle of this camp.”
Zaatari refugee camp is now the ninth largest ‘city’ in Jordan, having been established three years ago. The camp has several schools, although an estimated one third of children do not attend. According to a recent report, one young woman studying within the camp won a scholarship to Jordan’s Al al-Bayt University.
Commenting on the Millennium Development Goals, Ms Caprani welcomed the reduction in child mortality, and economic grow in the developing world but lamented that there were an estimated 230 million children living in conflict zones.
“The new sustainable development goals around living in peace, improving equality and stopping climate change are key to a better future,” she said. “We must make it happen.”
The day, which was organised by a team of UEL undergraduates and staff from the School of Social Sciences, included student presentations on the health problems of Australia’s aborigines and the impact of foreign aid in sub-Saharan Africa.
Speaking after the event, conference chairman and UEL international development student, Jaroslav Vohradsky, said he thought the day was a unique opportunity for students.
“The quality of the presentations has really set the bar high,” he said, “I’m grateful to everyone who made it possible, it’s a proud tradition that will continue for years to come.”