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Photo Essay: The Impact of US Policies on Refugees in Lebanon and Jordan

By Lauren Murphy, Digital Producer, Amnesty International USA

When President Trump signed what has become known as the Muslim ban during his first week in office, he set into motion a series of events that continue to leave families in uncertainty and danger to this day, according to a new report by Amnesty International USA. In some cases, these families were cleared to come to the United States in late 2016 and early 2017, only to be stranded in countries where they face restrictive policies, increasingly hostile environments, and often lack the same rights as permanent residents or citizens.

The new report, “The Mountain is in Front of Us and the Sea is Behind Us,” is based on nearly 50 interviews conducted by AIUSA with refugees currently living in Lebanon and Jordan. The report describes the desperate circumstances faced by families who continue to be locked in an impossible limbo because of discriminatory U.S. policies as they try to seek safe a new life and permanent home. Here are their stories.

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Nadia and her family live in the Ain Al-Hilweh camp in Lebanon, a Palestinian camp where many Syrians also live, because it is cheaper. She and her six children share a small structure with one room for the children, one room for her, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Her “zinco” roof has been leaking for two months, and the blankets and linen are always wet.
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Left: A young boy, originally from Syria, who was shot in the head while caught in crossfire between armed factions in Lebanon. He lives with his family in the Ein El Hilweh camp for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Center: The injured hands of a young girl. Her mother and two siblings, all originally from Syria, were badly burned when the car they used to flee from fighting was hit by shrapnel and caught fire. They have had limited food and housing assistance from international agencies and aren’t able to get the medical attention they need. They would like to be resettled to a third country to get better medical care and start a new life but aren’t sure what the future holds. Right: A thirteen-year-old boy living in Lebanon with his family. His eyes were injured during an explosion in Syria and now has less then 10% of his vision left. His family wishes to be resettled.
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Zaatari refugee camp, established in 2012, for Syrian refugees in Jordan. Zaatari is home to nearly 80,000 refugees, nearly 20 percent of whom are under five-years-old.
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Kaden* and his family outside their home in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. They would like to be resettled anywhere, and are unable to return to Syria.

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The Azraq refugee camp in Jordan is home to approximately 40,000 people but looks and feels like a military compound. From the air, the camp looks like an isolated checkerboard on the desert plain. On the approach to Azraq, a city of tents appears on the horizon, an anonymous city of plain white structures emerging out of nowhere. The freedom of refugees to move in and out of the camp is severely limited.
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A young girl in Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. Her father is an engineer and helped make Azraq to be one of the first refugee camps run entirely on solar power.

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