80,000 Syrians left in open-air waiting room

80,000 Syrians left in open-air waiting room

Informal discussions are underway in Geneva as participants begin arriving for the Syrian peace talks, according to the UN's special envoy to Syria, Steffan de Mistura.

The formal talks are scheduled to begin on Monday.

The UN says it expects the discussions to be "substantive", but some Syrian opposition leaders have yet to confirm they'll even attend.

As a result of the five-year conflict, 4.6 million Syrians are now known to have taken refuge in neighbouring countries. More than 80,000 of them now live in Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp.

The camp is now Jordan's fourth largest city, but instead of buildings it's made of tents and temporary structures.

80,000 Syrians left in open-air waiting room

Kiwi-born Oxfam aid worker Adeline Guerra has spent the last three weeks in Zaatari refugee camp.

She says none of the residents ever thought they'd end up here.

"I think none of them ever thought they'd be called a refugee. They're people like you and I. They are people that I wish I could actually get to know more."

Ms Guerra says the camp's residents are ordinary people, forced into extraordinary circumstances.

80,000 Syrians left in open-air waiting room

"Today we actually flew kites; you could see kids actually from five to15 finally having a big smile on their faces. And you could tell for that very brief moment, it was as though life was normal."

Before the fighting began, Syria was home to 22 million people. Now half of them have been forced to flee a conflict that has claimed at least 250,000 lives.

80,000 Syrians left in open-air waiting room

It is a fight that is tarred by complexity; one that includes a dictator's government, several groups of jihadists and government separatists.

A partial truce is in effect, but the conflict is far from over.

While Ms Guerra says the people at Zaatari are safe for now, the camp isn't a permanent solution.

80,000 Syrians left in open-air waiting room

"All they can think of is that they want to go home and yet they're living in an open-air waiting room."

If you would like to donate to Oxfam’s Syria appeal which helps provide clean water, blankets and other life-saving necessities to people in Zaatari refugee camp, you can do so at oxfam's website or by phoning 0800 600 700.