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Portland-Based Mercy Corps Helping Syrian Refugees

OPB | Aug. 30, 2013 2:53 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 6, 2013 7:50 a.m. | Portland

Contributed By:

Kristian Foden-Vencil

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Just across the Syrian border in Jordan, Mercy Corps aid worker Jeremy Barnicle says the refugee camp he’s visiting is bursting at the seams.

It contains about 130,000 people, more than the population of  Gresham.

So, says Barnicle, they’re building a new camp.

Mercy Corps is boring a water hole there and putting up playgrounds — more than half of the refugees are kids.  Barnicle says another 200,000 refugees are living outside the camps.

Mercy Corps workers build a playground at Syrian refugee camp in Jordan

Mercy Corps workers build a playground at Syrian refugee camp in Jordan

“You know there are people who, when they show up, are living in a burnt-out basement or something with rats and straw on the floor,” he said. “Then we come in and work with them to clean it up and bring in mattresses and blankets and all that stuff. And then do a more significant renovation that might have, you bring in a water tank, an indoor kitchen, an indoor bathroom, maybe proper wiring. Things like that.”

Mercy Corps estimates that almost two million Syrians have now fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

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