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Economic life inside a Syrian refugee camp

Syrian refugees fetch water in the Za’atari refugee camp on February 1, 2013 in Za'atari, Jordan.

Until about a year ago, the land that is now the Zaatari refugee camp was nothing more than sand and scorpions. Now it's home to more than 120,000 Syrian refugees making it the second largest refugee camp in the world.

The camp is now the fourth-largest population center in Jordan.

David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, spent time in that camp -- right across the border from Syria.

"These people come from southern Syria, where they're traders, shopkeepers, even smugglers and very quickly people set up all kinds of shops," he says. "Refugees are in a very, very tight spot, but it doesn't mean they forget how to be human beings, even economic human beings."

Remnick says that right now since the situation has become so dire, many refugees are losing hope and feel like the crisis will continue for an indefinite period of time.

"There's a sense of deep emotional resignation -- and that's very tragic to witness."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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