Do you know how many refugees your home country hosts? Imagine you are one of 4.4 million nationals… and all of a sudden 1.5 million refugees enter your country to seek safety and shelter. How would you feel about it?
Exactly this scenario has been happening in Lebanon since the crisis in Syria started in 2011. The small country in the Middle East has the highest number of refugees per capita. In Bekaa Valley which borders Syria, the magnitude of the refugee influx is particularly visible. Around 216,000 refugees live in 38,000 makeshift tents on rented farmland. These informal settlements are characterised by extremely poor living conditions, limited access to water and overcrowding, making them home to some of the most vulnerable families in Lebanon. 76% of these displaced people are living below the poverty line on less than $3.84 per person a day. Most of them have been living there since more than 5 years now and considering the current security situation in Syria it does not look promising for a soon return to home – where most of the displaced humans will find their houses devastated from war and will need to start living from scratch again.
In 2016 I gained an insight into the harsh everyday life of a refugee living in an informal settlement. I spent 4 months in the Bekaa Valley where I volunteered as Basic Aid Coordinator for Salam LADC, a local NGO. Providing help to people in need living in such challenging circumstances was an extremely invaluable and rewarding personal experience. Nonetheless I had to acknowledge how helpless exposed we humans are to environment and politics. I as an individual can’t change anything in the big picture. But still, I try harder to make the best of myself, to appreciate and make use of my privileges, to share with and to help others.
Don’t be shy to contact me if you are interested in taking action for refugees in Lebanon or if you want to share your personal experience in such a matter!