Clearly he hasn't spent enough time dealing with the parasitic Palestinian "refugee camps" that are older than many countries, but it's a sign of how low patience is running even among aid workers.
Kilian Kleinschmidt walks into the camp armed with a 6-inch stainless steel hook. "I hate refugee camps," he says. He is holding the hook in his hand like a dagger.That might be an understandable sentiment, if he wasn't the guy basically in charge of it.
In March, the UNHCR assigned him to rescue Zaatari from chaos. He was flown in from Kenya, put in a trailer in an area secured with fences, barbed wire and guards, and given a stack of business cards that read "Senior Field Coordinator," indicating that he was in charge at the camp.Unfortunately dealing with people from a civil war over religion is not nearly as simple.
The Zaatari Camp houses 116,000 refugees who fled to Jordan from the war in Syria. They live in trailers and tents with the letters UNHCR imprinted on them in blue. The UNHCR, or United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is Kleinschmidt's employer. The refugees receive water, food, shelter, toilets and warm blankets for the night. They could be satisfied. Instead, they stormed a trailer where detergent was being distributed, and broke an aid worker's foot with a rock. Kleinschmidt was caught in the middle of a battle between the military police and refugees, and his throat still hurts from the tear gas. Refugees also pulled a police officer from his obstacle-clearing tank and beat him on the head with a rock.It's almost like there's a reason that they became refugees... because they're violent and angry people.
Every day, four buses stop at the camp to collect people who want to travel back to Syria. The refugees stand in line in the morning, and when the buses arrive, they fight over seats, because they would rather live in a war zone than in Zaatari.If life in Syria were really so bad, they would stay. And the UN is about as useful as you would expect...
On the day of the EU commissioner's visit, two young women stood in the crowd of aid workers, wearing brown vests with UNESCO stitched onto them in blue letters. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is known for dealing with global cultural heritage. Kleinschmidt had never seen the women and had no idea what sort of cultural heritage they could be concerned about in Zaatari. "What are you doing here?" he asked. "We're doing a mentoring program for children," said one of the women, handing him a business card with the words "Project Manager" on it. Kleinschmidt replied: "It would be nice to know exactly what you're doing here, because I'm the camp manager." The exact term is nothing. Because UNESCO does nothing.
He doesn't know how many aid workers are in the camp. According to a list on the UNHCR website, 139 organizations are helping the people in Zaatari. Doctors Without Borders is there, and so are Electricians Without Borders and Gynecologists Without Borders. Clowns Without Borders, which performs in crisis zones to cheer people up, has already left.Clowns Without Borders sounds right up the UN's alley.
He used to be a pacifist and wanted to work at a vineyard... He went to Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Kosovo, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and he was amazed to survive it all. It stands to reason that there is little in the realm of the living or the dead that could still shock Kleinschmidt, but the camp in Zaatari has done it. "These are the most difficult refugees I've ever seen," he says.Congratulations Syrians, you're worse than the Somalis and the Pakistanis.
Kleinschmidt is only gradually able to identify the criminals that are working against him on the other side of the barbed wire, but he thinks he knows what they want. They want to keep the camp in an unstable state, and for free trade to remain forbidden so that smuggling continues to be worthwhile. They also want to prevent the aid organizations from installing a power grid, so that they can continue to sell illegally tapped electricity. And they want police to fear entering the camp, so that the mafia can go about its business without interruption.Scale this up to Iraq and Afghanistan and then scale it up to the entire Muslim world and you begin to get a sense of why nation building is doomed.
There are men in Zaatari who take advantage of chaos to acquire power -- some of them mean well and some are evil. One of them, perhaps the most powerful, is called Abu Hussein. "If I wanted to, I could have the entire camp burning in five minutes," says Hussein. He says that before becoming the most powerful man in Zaatari, he lived in the Syrian city of Daraa, where he worked in a school, teaching a subject called "Air-Conditioning and Heating." When the people revolted against Syrian President Bashar Assad, Hussein joined the rebel fighters and became commander of a special unit of the Free Syrian Army, the "Falcons of the Tribe of the Prophet Mohammed." Then he got scared and fled. When he reached Zaatari on Aug. 5 of last year, he was the 60th refugee to arrive at the camp, when a cold desert wind was blowing, he says. Hussein asked the aid workers for blankets for the women and children. When one of them refused, Hussein said that he had killed 73 people and that number would reach 74 if the worker didn't comply with his request. The aid worker gave him the blankets. From then on, he says, he was "the Akeed," or ruler. He continues to shout for half an hour, talking about corruption and Jews and cheese. He complains about the fact that some of the male aid workers have ponytails.Import Syrian refugees to America, as Obama is trying to do, and you bring more Husseins to New York to Los Angeles and to Portland.
Hussein said: "We have the feeling that the aid workers are heartless." Hussein lives in a trailer that cost $3,000. The air-conditioner runs with electricity he is tapping from the Italian hospital. The water for his tea is from canisters provided by UNICEF. He hasn't worked, paid or thanked anyone for any of it.