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An endless suffering for Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Thursday 10/January/2019 - 09:33 AM
Sada El Balad
Edited By: Rehab Sayed
Following the outbreak of civil war in Syria، refugees began entering Lebanon since 2011. According to the UNHCR، there were over 1 million Syrian refugees who had been registered in Lebanon in 2016.Nevertheless، this figure is likely largely underestimated since the UNHCR has stopped registering new Syrian refugees since May 2015 and it doesn't include individuals awaiting registration. Hence، precise figures of the number of Syrian people in Lebanon don't exist currently. Recent estimates were as high as 1،500،000 people.

Given the estimated population of Lebanon at 5.9 million، the 1.5 million Syrian refugees make Lebanon the country with the highest number of refugees per capita - with 1 refugee for every 4 nationals.

There are no official camps in Lebanon for Syrian refugees، who have to live in tents lacking the necessary conditions for a decent life. Around 6،300 camps in Lebanon، each consisting of 20 to 150 tents. One tent hosts four to 12 people.

Some Syrian refugees rent apartments، partly due to the absence of formal refugee camps. More than 80% of them rent accommodation in 1700 locations countrywide at an average price of 200$ a month. The rest of them - who's percentage keeps increasing due to the deepening vulnerability - had to settle in unfinished buildings، garages، abandoned sheds، work sites and tents in informal settlements.

The influx of Syrians into Lebanon has resulted in economic، and humanitarian problems in Lebanon، that was reflected on thousands of the Syrian refuges.

Last week heavy rains and snow wrecked several informal settlements housing of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and left thousands in need of emergency assistance.

Some of the worst affected were the refugees living in Arsal، a mountainous border area in northern Lebanon where the roofs of rudimentary shacks caved under the weight of the snow.

There was no food، no bread، and the road has been closed since yesterday."

Snowfall is not unusual in the area but Lebanon has in recent days been hit by a prolonged patch of severe weather and a storm dubbed "Norma".

The United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) said emergency measures had been put in place to rescue stranded families and help those suffering from the cold.

"Across Lebanon، at least 66 informal settlements have been found heavily impacted by the flooding، 15 of which have completely flooded or collapsed،" UNHCR spokeswoman Lisa Abou Khaled said.

"Around 300 people have been relocated so far in the north and the (eastern) Bekaa" region، she said.

The UN agency and its partners were distributing relief items such as new tents، blankets، mattresses and drainage kits.

"UNHCR and partners estimate that approximately 850 informal settlements، hosting 50،000 refugees، are at risk of flooding،" Abou Khaled said.

Jamal Abou el Hassouna، a Syrian refugee in Lebanon، has to work hard every morning with his children to remove the thick snow that threatens to destroy their seven-year-old tents in the refugee camp in the mountains of Qaraoun.

"The snow was more than 30 cm high this year. We fear it could cause our tents to collapse،" Hassouna said.

Meanwhile، Ahmad El Maghribi، who works for one of the international organizations dedicated to refugees، said the snow storm collapsed dozens of refugee tents in several camps in the Bekaa Valley، while rainwater swept away tents in more than one area.

"The crisis of refugees living in non-equipped camps in Lebanon has been further exacerbated with the eruption of the snow storm،" said Saida Ammash، a relief worker in displacement camps.

Refugees also complained about the lack of help from the international community.

"I hold the international organizations accountable for exposing my kids to death and starvation due to the cold weather and lack of food،" said Abou Moujahed Shawish.




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