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PHOTO GALLERY: US artist, Syrian children beautify refugee camp


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Syrian refugee children peer from window of their newly decorated classroom at Zaatari refugee camp near Syrian border in Mafraq, Jordan. (Photo: AP)
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Syrian refugee girl with mural at Zaatari camp.(Photo: AP)
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American artist Samantha Robinson poses for a portrait in front of mural painted by young Syrian refugees at Zaatari camp. (Photo: AP)
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Artist from South Africa, Luc van der Walt, helps young Syrian refugees to paint a mural at Zaatari refugee camp. (Photo: AP)
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Syrian refugee boys paint a mural on the wall of a public bathroom in Zaatari camp, turning it into an acquarium. (Photo: AP)
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Syrian refugee paints a mural at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. (Photo: AP)
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Syrian refugee paints a mural at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. (Photo: AP)
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Young Syrian refugees pose to be photographed in front of a mural they painted on a public bathroom at Zaatari camp. (Photo: AP)
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Syrian refugee paints a mural at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. (Photo: AP)
Jul
24

At Zaatari refugee camp, which shelters more than 100,000 Syrians who fled their warn-torn country, a US artist leads children to paint the camp's buildings and walls with murals expressing their lives and hopes

Young Syrian children, refugees of their country's grinding civil war, playfully grab paint brushes and rollers nearly as big as they are in this windswept desert camp, adding splashes of bright color to their bleak surroundings.

Most of the trailers and tents match the beige color of the swirling sand surrounding the Zaatari refugee camp, home to about 120,000 Syrians who fled the nearly three-year war still gripping the nation. Slowly though, that's changing with the help of a U.S. artist who is leading children haunted by the conflict to paint buildings and walls at the crowded camp with murals expressing their lives and hopes.

The painting project gives a moment of color and self-expression for kids who have had their lives shattered by Syria's war. Last week, the special U.N. envoy for children and conflict warned about the effects of the upheaval on children, warning that Syria's violence is producing a generation plagued with illiteracy and "filled with hate."

Just over half the refugees in Zaatari are under the age of 18. On what was once an empty patch of desert, the sprawling complex has grown in just a year into the second largest refugee camp in the world and is Jordan's fifth largest populated city, with more refugees pouring daily across the border, just 16 kilometers (10 miles) away. Many of the families come from the southern Syrian province of Daraa, where the Syrian uprising began, and many of the children have directly experienced the trauma of having their neighborhoods bombarded and having relatives killed.

Robison, 27, from the Washington, D.C.-area, works in the camp as part of an organization she founded called AptART. She has traveled to Cambodia, Congo, Iraq and Syria to work on art projects before arriving at Zaatari.

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