AMMAN – Renowned Muslim singer Sami Yusuf has visited a main refugee camp in Jordan to solace thousands of Syrian refugees who fled bloodshed in their country.
“This is an incredible ordeal for you and your families,” Yusuf told refugees at the Zaatari camp in Jordan, according to the World Food Program’s website on Thursday, April 11.
“And I don’t want you to lose faith that you will go back home soon, so stay strong and take care of your children because this is the future of Syria.”
Yusuf heard from Syrian families about their ordeal after fleeing the raging conflict in Syria.
Touched by their resilience, the Muslim singer invited refugees to sing along with him.
There are more than 290,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan and hundreds are crossing the border into the kingdom on a daily basis.
The UN has said that the number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries rose to more than one million.
Syrians started trickling out of the country nearly two years ago when President Bashar al-Assad’s forces shot at pro-democracy protests inspired by Arab Spring revolutions.
The uprising has since turned into an increasingly sectarian struggle between armed opposition and government soldiers and militias.
More than 70,000 people have been killed.
There is no end in sight to the conflict in Syria, which has divided world powers.
Russia and Shiite Iran support Assad, while the United States, along with some European and Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab nations back a fractured opposition.
Damascus and some of its opponents have said they will consider peace talks, but no meetings have been arranged.
The Muslim singer also visited WFP’s distribution centers inside the camp where he met refugee men and women collecting their food rations.
“I am proud of the hard work and collective effort that I see today of WFP and other humanitarian agencies to assist Syrian refugees,” Yusuf said.
“And I appeal to the international community and the public to support the humanitarian efforts inside Syria and in neighboring countries.”
The WFP is planning to feed up to 380,000 Syrian refugees living with host communities and in the camps through food vouchers and in-kind food assistance.
The aid agency is short of $20 million needed to continue its operations in Jordan and expand as more refugees arrive every day.
Overall, WFP needs $19 million every week to provide assistance for 2.5 million people inside Syria and just over one million refugees in neighboring countries.
Yusuf also visited Syrian children at UNICEF-run schools inside the Zaatari camp and participated in WFP’s school feeding program, distributing nutritious date bars to school-aged refugees.
Despite pledges of $1.5 billion by international donors for a UN response plan to help Syrian refugees, only 25 percent has been funded, according to the UNHCR.
In Jordan, a country of six million, the refugee influx has strained energy, water, health and education services to the limit.
Turkey says it has spent more than $600 million setting up 17 refugee camps, with more under construction.