Hovering over saucepans brimming with brightly coloured soap, women in Jordan’s Za’atari camp are doing what they can to keep their families and neighbours safe.


As they carefully pour the hot liquid into trays for setting, it seems this has become a labour of love as well as necessity.

“We add different ingredients like colours, perfumes and alcohol to turn them into a product that cleans and sanitises the hand,” says Um Mustafa, manager of ‘Made by Za’atari’, a UNHCR training program for women.

They use local and natural materials to make the soap, which they then give away to families in need.

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus among Syrian refugees in Jordan’s camps so far, but we’re planning ahead.

Local hospitals and clinics are fully staffed and have introduced infection-control methods, such as isolation and emergency ambulance services.


UNHCR staff are using awareness sessions and regular text-message updates to drive home the importance of prevention measures.

“Sanitation and hygiene levels are not ideal. We’re talking about a refugee camp, and facilities are challenging,” said Mohammad Tahir, a UNHCR field worker.

“A large portion of the population are children, and it’s hard to make them understand the need for isolation and extra handwashing.”

That is why the soap project is so useful, says Za’atari camp manager Irene Omondi.

“During this time, these women are giving back to the community, making soap, sharing with their neighbours and sharing the message of having good hygiene practises.”

Women carve soap in Za'atari refugee camp to protect people from coronavirus

Made by Za’atari’ is a UNHCR training program for women,  and they're making soap for refugee families. ©️ UNHCR/M. Hawari

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