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Jordan

© David Brunetti

Isra'a and Basil live in the Beqa'a refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. The camp, home to 104,000 refugees, was established in 1968 to accommodate Palestinian refugees who fled their homes during al Nakseh in 1967. The population of the camp is young and underemployed.

The family is from Yatta but both Basil and his mother were born in Beqa'a. Even though Palestine so close, it is quite likely that their interests and rights (as Palestinian refugees in diaspora) will not be taken fully into account in any (distant) future settlement between Israel and the PA.

Their lives are a constant reminder that the precarious life of refugees can become permanent.

© David Brunetti

My portrait of Reem and Noor was selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Reem and Noor are sisters in law who live in a small two-room apartment with their families and in laws. I met them and their families, who are Syrian refugees, while I was working on a project about urban refugees in Jordan with UNHCR.

I was in Azraq when an elderly man, Reem and Noor's father in law, took notice of me. He invited my guide and me for coffee in his house where I met the whole family. The location on the edge of town in itself was beautiful – lots of land and trees around the concrete buildings – but the home he led me to looked more like a storage room than a place to live with children but I suppose it is safer than Syria. The family was very friendly and welcoming, they were asking me a lot of questions about my life. I was the first foreigner they’ve ever met and everybody was very excited and curious. They told me about themselves but they didn’t what to talk too much about the war or their life as refugees. They were very proud and didn’t want to complain. They didn’t want to be seen as victims. I spend the afternoon with them chatting and laughing and after a while Reem and Noor eventually asked me if I wanted to take their picture. And without any hesitation or direction from me they got up and stood in the middle of the small room and said they were ready and I took this shot. After their mothers had their portrait taken the children and the rest of the family also wanted to sit for me. But it was this first shot that is special to me because Reem and Noor took the initiative and yet I see their curiosity, shyness and vulnerability as well as courage in their portrait.

© David Brunetti

Three of my images, including my portrait of Jihan, were selected to be part of the Miniclick response exhibition at the Phoenix Gallery in Brighton. The exhibition, which took place over the opening weekend of the Brighton Photo Fringe, was a live curating event that invited the public to chose the work that featured in the exhibition. As the work was picked out to be printed there and then, the exhibition evolved as new images emerged throughout the weekend. I'm proud that my work was chosen to be part of it.

© David Brunetti

A Jordanian soldier waits for Syrian refugees to approach the border.

As the civil war in Syria enters its third year, a steady stream of civilians continues to flood Jordan through official and unofficial border crossings as they flee ongoing violence.

Many feel safer crossing in the dark, but it remains a risky journey by day or night. The Free Syrian Army whisks them to the border. On the other side Jordanian army watchtowers keep a close eye on Syrian troop movement. The moonlight guides them as they walk among the sand and rocks. They make their way by foot carrying what they can. It’s a dangerous and tiring journey.

The refugees arrive exhausted, scared and traumatized. Bundled in their arms are infants swaddled in thick blankets, jars of olives, plastic bags and suitcases jammed with clothing and other odds and ends.

With their border ordeal over, exhausted families gather together in army tents as they wait for the registration process before they are transported to temporary shelters.

© David Brunetti

This week was Refugee Week. And after two years of conflict, the situation in Syria remains dire. Families have been torn apart, communities ruined and schools and hospitals destroyed.

Samir is a Syrian refugee now living in Jordan. He told me that he’s a father to three boys. One morning he took his two eldest boys to school in his car when without warning government forces opened fire. He and his boys were shot. Soldiers then dragged him out of the car beat him severely and left him and the children for dead. His two boys died that mourning.

© David Brunetti

Today is World Refugee Day. And after two years of conflict, the situation in Syria remains dire. Families have been torn apart, communities ruined and schools and hospitals destroyed.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled the civil war in Syria for the relative safety of neighbouring host countries such as Jordan. They might have escaped the civil war but when they cross the border refugees face a host of new challenges. And as the number of refugees increases and the resources to cope with the influx dwindle, many Syrians decide to leave refugee camps – such as Zaatari which is now infamous for the tremendous number of Syrians it shelters – and settle in Jordan’s cities and towns instead. The refugee crisis in urban areas is far less visible, but no less serious than in the refugee camps. Many Syrians are living in unheated or unfurnished apartments, garages or tents, which are often overcrowded. Many families are facing increased debt as they struggle to pay for soaring rent and the rising costs of food, water and other basic essentials. And with no access to income, their problems will only multiply.

© David Brunetti

This photo was taken during the initial assessment of the child in the primary healthcare centre in Zaatari Refugee Camp.

The baby was suffering of high temperature and respiratory problems, which were all due the harsh conditions in the camp. The camp is set in inhospitable desert and the surroundings are bleak. With few barriers to protect against the relentless wind and dust, many are suffering from severe respiratory conditions, as well as pneumonia and dehydration.

© David Brunetti

The majority of Syrian refugees have settled in urban areas rather than refugee camps such as Zaatari. Life is Jordan is expensive for the Syrians. Many of the urban refugees struggle to make ends meet. Rents have risen significantly since refugees started to settle in Jordan and many landlords charge refugees exorbitant rents and having spent their saving and sold jewelry, keepsakes and heirlooms many struggle to afford the rents. Families who cannot afford the rents on the housing market, those who have entered Jordan illegally and Syrians who are not (yet) registered with UNHCR are camping out on the outskirts of towns.