Wed, 16 Sep 2020 - 03:18 GMT
"Egypt today" in Refugee and IDP camps in Lebanon
- Refugees in Lebanon is a Double crisis and two-faced crisis
ـ A UN official stated: Lebanon bears the largest number of refugees compared to the population
- Displacement camps Iebanon.. Stories of escape, harassment, rape and sexual exploitation in return of bread ; a hidden crime
- Lebanon .. the big camp .. about 2 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, 80,000 live on an area of 2 square kilometers only.. The women of the camps are victims without hope.. Day laborers subjected to harassment and sexual abuse then they are forced to silence, fearful for their "livelihood" and Fearing society
- A displaced woman from Syria: I support my orphan children ... I and others work as farming hands.. We are subjected to harassment Then we have to remain silent for fear of the scandal in the society and the sustenance of our children
- An official working with “UNRWA” stated: The Palestinian woman suffers greatly and often works as a domestic worker for a pittance and they are most vulnerable to mental illness and we offer them psychological support services as much as possible
-"Egypt today",The first Egyptian media outlet to report the reality inside the Sabra and Shatila camps ... exclusive coverage of the Beqaa Valley camps near the eastern Syrian borders..reveal Secrets of the "Ain al-Hilweh" camp in southern Lebanon
- US$ 25 billion are the losses incurred by the Lebanese economy as of 2018 as a result of the Syrian displacement «according to the latest estimates of the International Monetary Fund”
- Representative of the High Commissioner for Refugees in statments to"Egypt today": The Syrian refugees have reached an unprecedented level of poverty .. There are no signs of an improvement in conditions in the coming period..We are trying with the Lebanese authorities to solve the problem of missing identity papers
-The scourge of drugs, unemployment, and the loss of identification papers .. Crises inside the camps await solution
-Refugees without identification documents: No one admits our existence, our children cannot go to school and do not know how to find jobs
- Others complain about their bitter living conditions... Hajjah Samira: I have asthma because our homes do not allow the sun in. I work in collecting garbage in order to raise my family
- Hanadi: We left our future, which we were drawing, and the dreams of our children in our homeland and came here to the unknown
- Child Rahaf: I wish for earrings and for a jacket because I am cold..Souad: I wish to eat meat and to buy sandals and a dress
-US$ 350 million deficit in the UNRWA budget for the year 2020 caused by the suspension of US support to the organization since 2018
-The spokesperson for "UNRWA": The Unemployment rate among Palestinian refugees is 65% Financial aid is now limited to 61,000 refugees, who are the poorest.. Hoda Abu Samra: The scourge of drugs is widespread among camp residents and treatment is provided through partner institutions
1500 Syrian refugee camps are distributed in 5 regions of Lebanon, especially the Beqaa and Akker governorates
880 thousand Syrian refugees registered with the High Commissioner, out of a total number ranging between one million and 300 thousand refugees to one million and 500 thousand refugees
70 thousand Syrian refugees in the Middle East returned to their country last year
- Secretary of the People’s Committees in Ain El-Helweh camp: 3000 Palestinian-Syrian families inside the camp, and nearly 6 thousand families in Lebanon suffering from the loss of identity card crisis
- Human rights activist: Children who are victims of childhood marriage suffer major psychological crises that reach suicide, especially with the trauma of sex and domestic violence
- Secretary of the People's Committee in Shatila Camp: The situation of Palestinian refugees is dire in all camps as a result of state racism. We have educated energies and qualified youth, but they are prohibited from joining the labor market
- The official of the Palestinian joint forces in the "Ain al-Hilweh" camp: We have 80,000 refugees on an area of 2 square kilometers ... and we suffer multiple crises
- The official of the Palestinian joint forces in the "Ain al-Hilweh" camp: There are 300 fugitives in the camp due to cases of terrorism or bombing incidents
- The conditions of refugees inside the country in numbers
400 thousand pounds is the value of the monthly aid for each Palestinian refugee family (according to UNRWA)
180 thousand Palestinians in Lebanon (according to UNRWA statistics)
US$ 350 million deficit in the UNRWA budget for 2020
27 thousand Syrian and Palestinians in Lebanon (according to UNRWA statistics)
200 Coronavirus cases among refugees since the start of the pandemic (according to UNRWA and UNHCR)
Beirut, South of Lebanon and Beqaa Valley-16 Sep 2020: They peek behind plastic bags that were used as a substitute for the wooden doors of their dwellings, while they are playing next to a large water tank. Some of them are barefoot and others are lucky to have "slippers", even if it is torn and sized for adults, but at least it protects them a little from the cold and muddy ground. Their clothes are dirty, and the features of their faces are hidden behind layers of dirt and lines of mud, enough to tell their story and describe their conditions.
They are the children of the camps in Lebanon, specifically the Gaza camp in the Beqaa governorate near the eastern Syrian border. Sadly the same scene was repeated in many of the camps that we visited, whether the camps for the displaced Syrians or the Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila in Beirut, the gathering of Said Gawash, and also the Ain al-Hilweh camp in the south, which are the models that we have chosen as a sample. For those camps, let us monitor the reality and suffering of these people.
"Refugees" in Lebanon are a double crisis. At a time when these people have become an additional burden on state utilities that are struggling to break the bottleneck. We found them living in difficult conditions that were exacerbated by the dire economic crisis in Lebanon, along with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lebanon is the country with the highest number in the world in terms of the ratio of the number of refugees to the number of the local population, according to exclusive statements from representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Although accurate statistics are not available for the number of refugees, estimates indicate that there are about two million Palestinian and Syrian refugees, including 1.5 million Syrians and 500 thousand Palestinian "an estimated number based on the intersections of the numbers of the High Commissioner for Refugees, the General Directorate of General Security for Lebanon and the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, in addition to 18,500 refugees from other countries such as Ethiopia, Iraq and Sudan" according to the UNHCR report in 2020, which increases the burdens on various sectors in Lebanon. Dr. Faddy Sinan, Director General of the Ministry of Health, said in exclusive statements to the newspaper that there are 50,000 Syrian children born every year, considering asylum as one of the most important causes of the disastrous conditions in Lebanon.
Last May, President Aoun offered the UN envoy in Lebanon Jan Covich 43 billion dollars in financial losses to the state treasury as a result of the Syrian crisis, which includes asylum.
Ziad Al-Sayegh, an expert on public policies and refugees, says that there are no accurate statistics for the total losses that have befallen Lebanon due to asylum in general. However, it is certain that Lebanon bears enormous economic burdens as a result of asylum. It must be studied scientifically with international institutions. Al-Sayegh pointed out that the last statistic published by the World Bank in 2017 regarding the size of the direct losses as a result of Syrian refugees only estimated it at 17 billion dollars. The International Monetary Fund, in its latest statistics on the Syrian displacement crisis in Lebanon, estimated the losses at 25 billion dollars. In 2013, the year of the peak of asylum, according to the World Bank. The Syrian crisis cost Lebanon 2.5 billion dollars in declining economic activity and led to a decline in the standard of living for 170,000 Lebanese.
The refugee burdens
Lebanon was the only country that did not set conditions for receiving refugees, and with the increasing influx of Syrians since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the number of those registered with the High Commissioner for Refugees increased until it exceeded a million and a half million refugees in 2014, according the High Commissioner for Refugees estimates. Although Lebanon has set new criteria to receive the displaced early 2015, but this did not ease the burden and the influx of refugees continued, until their number reached 1,172,753 in June of the same year. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in addition to those not registered with the UNHCR who crossed into Lebanon illegally.
Regarding the burdens that refugees pose on Lebanon, Mirai Girard, representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Lebanon, says: “It is necessary to distinguish between the impact of the Syrian war on the Lebanese economy and the impact of the presence of refugees on this economy, as the war in general affected the economy in the region and the movement of trade and tourism. This is the most prominent effect, as for the presence of refugees. It represented a greater pressure on vital facilities and services, so our focus was on supporting and developing these services, for example we introduced projects for waste sorting, but on the other hand refugees are consumers, so they have contributed to limiting the decline in local production”.
Children in “Beqaa" camps
The Beqaa Governorate in eastern Lebanon includes the largest number of Syrian refugee camps near the Syrian border, as Lebanon has approximately 1500 camps concentrated in the north, especially Akker and the Beqaa Governorate, where there are 339,472 refugees registered with the UNHCR, and in the Gaza municipality, for example, 17 camps are estimated to have 25,000 Syrians displaced. According to the estimates of the «High Commissioner».
During our tour of these camps to monitor the reality of their residents, we met with 7 women, including widows, 6 men and young men, and 10 children of different ages, among them, Muhammad Ahmadi (9 years), who describes his life inside the camp, saying: “I love my friends in the camp, but we do not have a place to play in it and we do not have toys .. at night I feel afraid, because there is no electricity. ”
Muhammad’s life resembles the life of his peers in the camp who live a life they have not chosen. Here is Ahmed (12 years old), telling his story: “I was in my school in Syria and a raid took place and one of my classmates died in front of my eyes. I ran home and the whole way I could hear the deafeningly loud shootings. I hid behind rocks on the roads for the bombing to subside. Then I continued my way home and when I arrived I knew that my father was also hit and died. So, my mother decided to take me and my sisters to Lebanon. ”He continues, saying:“ Our life here is full of agony. I couldn’t continue my education I go with my mom farming to help here. I was dreaming to grow as a pediatrician in a hospital in Syria. I still dream of returning to my home and my country and live-in peace”.
Next to one of the tents, Soad Ibrahim stands "in the first grade of elementary school", with a broken smile on her face. She ran to us and her feet stumbled with the slippers she was wearing as it is too shabby- and much bigger than her size. She summed up her suffering, saying: “I wish to have pink sandals and a pink dress .. I dream of buying ice cream from the store and I eat meat. I want to go back to my toys that I left in Syria. ”
The dreams of Dalal (9 years), are similar to Souad's dreams. She also dreams of "sandals", and new clothes like a blue dress, and summarizes her suffering in the winter: “I wish to feel warm and not to be cold. The covers are not enough so I get cold, rain comes inside the tent and I can’t get out. I wish to play on swings but we don’t have any. ”Regarding the dream of the future, Dalal said:“ I hope to be a doctor treating children. ”
UNHCR says that it provides children with recreational activities, drawings and other activities, but the capabilities are not enough“
Deprived of education!
The conditions of the displaced people in the “Beqaa" were explained to us by Najib Al-Majzoub, a human rights and social activist at the Italian Intersource Organization for the Assistance of Displaced Persons. At a frightening pace, most of them depend on agriculture and crafts, and there are a number of civil society organizations that provide part of the aid, in addition to organizing psychological support sessions for children affected by war, violence and life in the camps, and children and youth are enrolled in educational centers, as many of them do not have educational opportunities in schools, and there are 250 A thousand children outside the educational system, Al-Majzoub added, "There are many families in the camps that are headed by women. In the Gaza camp, 400 widows or missing husbands are headed by families, and they are not allocated aid programs."
No jobs available
“I am a father of two daughters and three boys. It has been a year since I last had a job. We used to work in farming, our daily wages are 1,000 pounds for a man and a girl is 6,000. Since the start of Covid-19 crisis , we no longer have jobs.” Daher al-Ahmad, one of the camp's youth, recounts his suffering, adding: “We depend on UNHCR aid 70 thousand liras per month for each person, and they are not enough for us to pay anything. For example, a sack of sugar for example costs 100,000 liras.The whole months of winter the rain floods the camp, some days we had to sleep at some of our acquaintances’. Regarding the healthcare services he said,“ The bus comes once a month in which there is one doctor for all specialties, each family is allowed to treat one patient, either by going to the clinic and there are no specialists, as for the specialist’s examination, his fees range from 50,000 to 100,000 Lebanese pounds. Most of the surgeries are covered by the commission. ”Daher called for an increase in the value of the aid to meet his family’s basic needs.
Mirai Girar said that the conditions of the Syrian refugees are very difficult. They have reached an unprecedented level of poverty. Not to mention that Covid-19 has made matters even worse. There are 880 thousand Syrian refugees registered with us from a total of between one million and 300 thousand to one million and 500 thousand refugees, as we stopped registering refugees a year ago, in 2015, at the request of the Lebanese government, adding that the UNHCR assistance reaches about one million refugees in Lebanon, and 30% of the refugees benefit from the life-saving cash assistance program. However, unfortunately it does not cover everyone, and we provide monthly cash assistance to the most vulnerable families, but we suffer from a severe shortage of funding. We get only 47% of the amount needed for the 2020 response plan, which is "$ 607 million."
Port explosion has compounded the refugee crises
The repercussions of the Beirut Port disaster extended to the displaced as well. Here is Hammoud Al-Dahr, a resident of the Gaza camp who works as a truck driver in the port, who owned a truck that he used to work on and was destroyed at the time of the explosion. I don’t own even one pound of it. ”He added:“ We do not have work except agriculture, and sometimes construction work. Our daily wage is 6000 liras. I have 9 children and this amount cannot be enough for us to even eat bread alone. I can’t send my children to schools. Since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic the job opportunities has vastly decreased”.
Khaled Ibrahim, who was displaced from Syria in 2013 and has 7 children, adds: “The collapse of the price of the pound and the Covid-19 crisis have destroyed our livelihood, and the value of the aid is fixed at 400,000 pounds per family and 70,000 pounds per person. A kilo of chicken has become 10,000 so people are deprived of eating it and a kilo of meat is 50,000, and most medicines we do not find in the clinics, we buy them at our expense. ”
«Covid-19» in the camps
The refugees we met unanimously agreed that the Covid-19 pandemic is not widespread among them, and with regard to preventive measures, some rely on themselves to buy disinfectants and masks, while the majority are unable to purchase prevention supplies.
On the situation of the pandemic in the Syrian camps, Mirey Girar said, that the number of infections among the refugees is small, the total until the end of October is 200 cases. Yet, concerns still exist in light of the outbreak of the pandemic in Lebanon with the difficulty of applying social distancing in the tents, so UNHCR intensifies awareness campaigns in these camps and the distribution of personal hygiene supplies.
Regarding the situation of the pandemic in the Palestinian camps, Ferial Kamal, a human rights activist in Shatila camp, said that the preventive measures are not sufficient because the number is large, but the spread of the pandemic so far is not large.
As for Ain al-Hilweh camp in Sida, the number of infected people discovered so far is 50, and there are no disinfectants or respirators available inside the camp, according to what Dr. Abdulrahman Abu Salah, secretary of the camp's people’s committees, explained.
Violations of the rights of women and children
She sits in sadness in front of the door of her tent in the Gaza camp, her looks and the features of her face are conveying years of misery. It is Hajjah Amara Al-Ahmad, a widow who came with her children from Syria since the beginning of the war. She said “I have 3 daughters and 4 sons and my husband died while they were still young. I kept working and toiled my whole life to raise them and no one helped me. ”Al Hajjah was able to educate some of her children until the ninth grade and marry off daughters. Regarding her needs, she said:“ My daughter is a widow and she has a child and I support them. ”
Hajjah Amara suffers from many diseases, but medicines are not available. She adds: "The medicine box is 10,000 pounds, and in the winter the rain falls on us from the roof and it is very cold and the camp covers aren’t enough."
Hanadi Abad, who was displaced 9 years ago, is a volunteer in the field of humanitarian work in the camps. She recounted her sufferings saying: “I have 4 children we escaped from our country, escaping from bombing and death, and our livelihoods were closed. Our trip to Lebanon was full of hardships we came illegally through borders..”
Hanadi burst into tears, saying: “We left our memories and our roots in our homes in Syria. We left our future that we were drawing and the dreams for the future of our children. We came to the unknown. I felt lost the first year for me here. But I had to hold on to life to help my kids live and they drove me to look for a job and I was employed by one of the Civil societies ».
Regarding the difficulty of life inside the camps for women, Hanadi says: “Life is tough ... Many widows are supporting their families depend on the aid of organizations. Some women who work in farming and cannot provide for the needs of their children, and many suffer from depression. Hanadi continues: “the winter is a big problem and it is getting more difficult, it is freezing cold and the ground is muddy, it is difficult to move from one tent to the other”
“Me and many others in the camp are working as farming workers ... We are subjected to harassment and we still silent, because of the scandal and to maintain our livelihood. ” This is how “S.M.” described her suffering in “one of the Beqaa camps”, as she supports 5 children after her house was destroyed during the war and her husband died, so she took her children and came to Lebanon. she continues her story saying: “there are women here who have been raped, even children are subjected to the same harm, but no one can say a word. Our society does not have mercy, and if they knew that they would kill us. We also fear for our livelihood and the aids are not enough”. A.M. agreed with her, confirming that she had been harassed more than once.
Yasmine Kayali, an official at the Basma and Zaitouna Association for Civil Society Services, affirms that many refugee children and women are subjected to rape and harassment, either by employers or inside the camps, and women fear scandal and loss of their livelihood. We support some victims with psychological treatment.
child- mothers in Camps
Among the tragedies we found in the refugee community in Lebanon is child marriage starting from the age of ten, and among those cases we met with “S.K.” coming from Idlib and residing in the gathering of Said Gawash, 14 years old, and she is a mother of two children. She recounted her tragedy saying, “I live in torture since I was 11, they took me out of school to get married. I didn’t know what is the meaning of marriage or what sex meant. I suffered from a psychological condition in the first period of marriage, and despite illness my husband’s family did not have mercy on me and insisted on breaking my virginity in front of witnesses to prove I am a virgin. My condition worsened and I tried to commit suicide and there is an association that provides assistance, they took me to a psychiatrist and I kept getting treatment. Until now, I am terrified of sex, and my husband takes me with force, and at times he beats me until I lose consciousness. I don’t know how I deal with my children; my husband’s family raise them with me .. I am pregnant and hope for someone to save me from the hell I am living in. ”
“I was hoping to become a teacher.” This is how the child expressed her wish, and about what she had lived in Syria, she says: “I have 6 brothers and a father who died in the war and no one was supporting us. I was 7 years old at the time when the war began. I began to become aware of life amid the blood and bombing. "At some point there was bombing, I was running home. My schoolmates died with a shell over their head." She concluded her speech, saying: “I dream that Syria will return to what it used to be and we can return to it."
We met another case of a girl from Syria (A.I.), 13 years old, who tells her story: “I came from Syria two years ago to get married herb. My husband works in a butchery, and my father sells bread I have 4 siblings. When the war broke out, we could not live. Our families agreed and I got engaged over the phone and I had never seen my husband before. My sister is also 22 years old and she has 4 children. She got married at the age of 15. ”Here, she couldn’t contain her tears, as she says:“ My husband's family started beating me because I did not get pregnant until now, they took me to more than one doctor, they said because I was young ».
About this phenomenon, Kamal Cherfan, head of the Women's Democratic Gathering, told us: “This phenomenon has worsened in Lebanon with the outbreak of the Syrian crisis and the influx of displaced people with the vulnerable situation of displaced families, so any opportunity to get a girl married, regardless of her age in exchange for a dowry and to get rid of her burden, became a golden opportunity, so integration between Syrian women became and the Lebanese people began ».
Yasmine Kayali, a human rights activist and an official at the Basma and Zeitouna Association concerned with providing services to refugees, added, “We provide psychological support to the children of the camps and activities such as drawing and sports, as a large number of them suffer from psychological diseases. Not only extreme poverty, but their fear for the honor of their daughters in light of the conditions in the camps, there are children who marry from the age of ten and these suffer great psychological crises that reach suicide, especially with sex in the context of that relationship in addition to violence by the husband and then divorce, and there are no laws that protect these .
She had to allow her daughter’s marriage when she was only 12 years old“
With tears, FL began her conversation, refusing to reveal her identity for fear of the family and society, I barely convinced her to tell us her story: “I am a mother of 7 children, and my husband is deceased, we escaped from Syria, after long suffering we settled in the camp. I could not find a job that could suffice for my children's sustenance I work in farming on daily wages and I can stay for 10 days without a job. With the difficulty of the economic situation, the work stopped in farming, and my children became about to starve. I was destroyed, and I had to allow my daughter to get married at the age of 12- to reduce the burden and to help me support her siblings, but the bigger disaster is that she came back few years later divorces and devastated with two children. Now I am responsible for 9 souls instead of 7, and I am unable to sustain them.
The Role of the United Nation in Combatting Child Marriage
UN Women in Lebanon said, in statements to “Egypt today", that it is working in collaboration with the government, local partners, and international non-governmental organizations to implement the strategic plan to protect women and children in the years between 2020 and 2027, and participated in the launch of the national action plan to prevent child marriage and mitigate its severity in Lebanon in 2020.
UN Women provides judicial support to prevent this marriage, and the Commission uses its efforts to implement judicial reform that responds to child marriage issues, in addition to raising public awareness of the reality of gender-based violence and forced child marriage. The Commission supports awareness campaigns, highlighting the dire consequences of child marriage and violence against woman. The organization cooperates with the concerned parties to provide programs to enhance the economic empowerment of women to mitigate the risks of this marriage. The authority also uses transformative programs aimed at creating empowered and just societies, where women can express their wishes.
You can only see a glimmer of light in alleys that you can hardly walk through due to its extreme narrowness and the proximity of the buildings in it. Once you look up, you will see huge amounts of tangled electrical wires hanging over your head, and next to them are ropes carrying families' clothes This is the scene inside the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp, which is about a kilometer long and inhabited by 25,000 people, and the same scene you find in Sabra, which is historically linked to the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982.
The number of Palestinian refugees actually present in Lebanon is approximately 180,000 refugees, most of them are distributed in 12 camps in five regions: North, Beqaa, Beirut, Tire and Sida, while the number of registered is about 473,000 refugees, and 27,000 Syrians and Palestinians, according to UNRWA statistics.
Wearing an old footwear a size too big for her and a pink summer dress, playing Hopscotch, while electrical wires are hanging over her head with all the risks they carry, they have no other choice .. She is a 7-year-old girl named "Aya", describing in her simple words the deprivation she is experiencing in “Shatila camp": " We do not have clothes to wear, my younger sisters and I, we need clothes, and we wanted a place to play ... and we do not have masks to wear, we know that Corona comes to those who don’t wear a mask, but we don’t have any. ”
"Muhammad", who is ten years old, says: "I used to be a teacher myself, but my Dad didn't have enough money to send me to school, and I work to help him."
In front of a small shop, a cart with tools for preparing tea and instant coffee, Imad Abu Safi, 11 years old, stands to sell it to passers-by, with signs of fatigue and anxiety on his face about the pain he is experiencing, Imad speaks saying: “I have 8 brothers, I am the eldest of them. I was a student in grade 5 and quit school to work and help my parents and meet my family's needs, by preparing coffee to sell, I wake up at 6 in the morning to stand on the tea carte and in the afternoon I work in a shop .. I work for more than 12 hours a day. People around us are starving to death and we don't get enough food or the medication to be treated”. About his wishes, Imad tells us: "I for myself used to wish to be a great doctor in Syria."
Work is forbidden!
Walid Salam, a resident of Shatila camp, father of 5 children, describes his living conditions: “I work as a satellite worker inside the camp, because work outside the camp is forbidden for us. The simplest human rights are not there. It is not enough for my family’s sustenance, so I have to make 10 years old son to work. Even the financial aid from UNRWA, 105,000 liras, has become irregular due to the lack of resources.
Hoda Abu Samra, the official spokesperson for UNRWA in Lebanon, says that the volume of aid provided has decreased, especially after the United States stopped funding in 2018, which constitutes a third of the budget, which this year amounted to one billion and 500 million dollars. The deficit amounted to 350 million dollars, which doubled the burdens. This US decision was due to political reasons, as America used it as a pressure card on the Palestinians, explaining that the material aid is limited to 61,000 refugees who are the poorest. It amounts to US$39 for every refugee every 3 months, or US$ 130 a year.
Haji Farhat Salim, a member of the Workers Union, says, “We feel discrimination against us by the state. We are banned from several jobs, and conditions have worsened in the last two years. Half of the people have been discharged from their jobs and the pension of the second half has reduced to less than 50%. We depend on the salty water of the sea. As for aid, it is designated for specific cases.
The suffering of the woman
In the morning we entered a building whose entrance was pitch black,. Inside we found the needy, Umm Ahmad, sitting on a wooden couch, next to her three grandchildren, Malak, Muhanad and Mahmoud, in a dark room. The electrical current is cut off. Part of our suffering is electricity, except for two hours, and we do not have money to pay subscriptions. As for the water, it is salty, so we have to buy two gallons of water a day. ”
Umm Ahmad added: “The suffering has doubled after the economic crisis. Young people are without work. Hardly, my husband could find a job, but the income is not sufficient for the necessities. My son is married and has 4 children. He finds work for one week and stays unemployed for months. She concluded her speech:“ I wish I had fresh water, and my children would find a job ».
"Laila Noman" has been married for 12 years and has 3 children. She says: "I live suffocated in the camp. I have two handicapped children, and my husband left work for a year and we are in distress."
As for the health suffering, Hajjah Nadia Hamdan (Umm Ali) told us about it, saying: I am suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, I have to get the medication at my expense, because UNRWA does not give us money. " Hamdan added, "The Rights of the Palestinian refugee woman are wasted , and many of them are widows , and they are the ones who support their families."
We went up a broken ladder that could only accommodate one person in one of the buildings in “Sabra”, and from a narrow door we entered the house of Hajja Umm Muhammad. We found her lying on a rickety iron bed. She told us her story: “ I got married here and I have 10 kids, I raised them in a small room. One of them can’t hear nor speak we could not afford treating him. When things got very tight, he went to work carrying sand. ''
Regarding the aid they receive, the 80-year-old said: “UNRWA gives me 140,000 liras every 3 months, and the price for a packet of medication is 100,000 liras. A doctor’s fee is 50,000 liras, and the electricity subscription is 100,000… God will sustain us”!
UNRWA spokesperson Hoda Abu Samra comments: Palestinian women suffer greatly from the pressures of life and work. Her profession is often a houseworker for a small amount. She is most vulnerable to mental illnesses, and in this regard we provide psychological support, in addition to providing our basic health services through 27 primary health care centers. But the incurable diseases exceed our capabilities. We cannot cover it and this hurts us, in addition to the frighteningly high unemployment rates.
Suleiman Abdel-Hadi, Secretary of the People's Committee in "Shatila", explains that the people's committees are like a mini-municipality that compensates for the absence of the Lebanese state in the camps, and it provides many services in cooperation with UNRWA, including rationalizing electricity inside the camp, primitive electrical networks, and the electricity company does not provide any services inside the camps.
Death by electrocution or drugs!
Fatima Bishr, in the Shatila camp, describes the suffering of living in the camp, saying: “Electricity is not there and our children do not find any light to study on, and with regard to health, the one who gets sick and his treatment is not available in UNRWA he goes without until he dies. We live in an unbearable conditions and all that we hope for is to secure livelihood for my children. ”
Fatima added, "Our children play at the risk of random electrical wires, and many died with electric shocks and no one was held accountable or cares for us while we were in this cold weather, and these wires were made by the new residents to share the electric current."
Ferial Kamal explains, that there are a number of children who have died because of these wires, and this is a disaster that threatens the children of Palestinian camps and that they are controlled by the popular committees, as there is a major crisis in electricity and many families resort to sharing the electricity with another family to share the subscription.
'The scourge of drugs'
Another problem inside the camps, and Fatima talks about it in Shatila camp, explaining that it is widespread among children and adolescents, adding: "Young people are looking for something to distract them from their worries. The phenomenon has recently increased dramatically."
Hoda Abu Samra asserts, "Drugs are widespread among camp residents and treatment is provided through our partner institutions. Through our partners, we try to provide awareness campaigns for young people and also offer training courses that teach them life skills, self-worth and certain crafts." Dr. Abdel-Rahman Abu Salah, Secretary of the People's Committees in Ain El-Helweh camp, confirmed that there is no hospital equipped to treat addictions. It is difficult to control these phenomena in light of the psychological suffering of the camp residents.
“The situation of the Palestinian refugees in the 12 camps is disastrous.” With this phrase, Suleiman Abdel-Hadi, Secretary of the Popular Committee of Shatila, described the conditions of the Palestinians, adding: “We have qualified youth who are barred from joining the labor market in 70 professions in Lebanon. Palestinians require a work permit for any profession they carry out and such permit is very difficult to obtain ». On the drug crisis in the camp, Suleiman Abdel-Hadi says: Drugs are not only spread inside the camp, but also in Lebanese universities, especially in the age group from 12 to 18 years. We do home visits to educate the people about their role. We ask the state to tighten its grip around the camp.
Umm Rabi`, 60 years old, in Sabra camp, takes care of 3 children, including a boy who suffers from seizures. He works to clean buildings for 14 thousand pounds per month for each building, and continues to work despite his illness, she says: Even the medicines are 3 times more expensive, and no one can help us. ”
The Identification Cards Crisis Refugees
Without an identity!
"Nobody recognizes us ... our children are out of school and there is no hope for the future." A phrase repeated by many refugees, whether Palestinians or Syrians, who do not have identity papers.
Dr. Abd al-Rahman Abu Salah, secretary of the popular committees in Ain al-Hilweh camp, says that about 6 thousand Palestinian families in Lebanon and 3,000 Syrian Palestinian families in the camp are suffering from the identity papers crisis, and these do not have secondary health care services outside the camp, and the Norwegian institution is trying to find solutions for them in coordination With the Lebanese state and the concerned authorities.
Muhammad Mahmoud, in Shatila camp, describes his crisis, saying: “I got married without papers because I don’t have a birth or residency document. When my son finished his primary school studies, I could not send him to middle school, because he is banned and unable to work .. And I fear for the future of my children. ”
In statements to "Egypt today", UN Women noted that stateless children are the result of the severe obstacles to undocumented marriage for the children of the camps, noting that awareness campaigns are being organized in this regard.
Inside the Ain El-Helweh camp, next to piles of rubbish that collects insects and rodents, Ali Al Far lives, he is a father of 4 girls. He tells his story: “My house is in the garbage, and my daughter has a skin disease due to insects and poor ventilation. I live a tragedy because I lost my ID papers, I have a temporary ID card from Palestinian embassy but it is good for any official transactions. I couldn’t send any of my daughters to school after grade 4. I don’t have official residence papers and I can’t afford getting passports for me and my family to get the residency, even the aid card is not recognized by UNRWA I performed 3 operations at my expense, and I am working my daily 10 thousand liras. We tried to communicate our complaint, but no one heard us.”
On the role of the High Commissioner for Refugees in assisting the loss of identity papers, the representative of the "High Commissioner" in Lebanon, Mirai Girard, says: "We are trying with the concerned Lebanese authorities to help these people obtain their papers and obtain legal residency by facilitating procedures and we were able to facilitate some of them, but there are still obstacles.».
With words of sadness and hardship, Dina Hassan, in Ain El-Helweh camp, describes her suffering: “It is difficult to be without an identity! .. I began to realize this when I took the primary certificate exam and they refused me, and from that time I was deprived of education and the crisis accompanied me throughout my life and at work, all we have now. Identification cards from the embassy, and my sons inherited the problem, and became hopeless about their future. Our suffering increases, especially as we live in an area outside the coverage of “UNRWA services.”
On this crisis in the camps, Yasmine Kayali, an official at the Basma and Zaitouna Foundation, says: “Most of the refugees are without birth documents, official marriages, residency or even an identity card, and this results in a 'customary marriage' and children are difficult to accept in schools, and Syrians suffer more because they are not recognized as refugees and there is no responsible party. The majority of them are not registered with UNHCR, and we provide legal experts to help them obtain documents.
Regarding the reasons for not granting these official residency, Kayali says: "The most important reasons are the intransigence of the state and the lack of a fixed place of residence or work in addition to the costs of obtaining residency papers, which amount to one million pounds annually and renewing the passport at 400 dollars."
Refugees suffer the harshness of life while the burdens of the state are increasing, a country that can no longer stand any other burdens. Would the concerned parties make their efforts to resolve the crisis and other crises so that Lebanon returns to its smile?
“Ain al-Hilweh. The capital of the Palestinian Diaspora
Ain al-Hilweh is the largest camp outside Palestine and represents the capital of the Palestinian diaspora. It was established in 1949, and it is inhabited by about 80 thousand refugees on an area not exceeding 2 square kilometers, according to Colonel Abdel Hadi Al-Asadi, the official in charge of the Palestinian forces involved in the camp.
This camp is known to be the most dangerous among all the camps, Al-Asadi says that there is continuous coordination with the Lebanese intelligence to hand over the wanted persons inside the camp, who number 300, some of whom are accused in connection with terrorism cases or bombing incidents. There is Swiss mediation from one of the institutions in cooperation with a number of lawyers. The Lebanese people are searching for wanted men and handing them over to the security services, and we have handed over a list of some names.
Al-Asadi added, "These are mostly Palestinians. We are not looking for the wanted people in order not to threaten the safety of the camp residents and undermine security, especially that they do not make any threat to peace."
He pointed out that drugs are also one of the most important challenges in the camp. Their promoters and sellers are being pursued and arrested, and treatment for addicts is facilitated.
For his part, Dr. Abd al-Rahman Abu Salah, Secretary of the People's Committees in Ain al-Hilweh, said, “Our mission is to oversee services and infrastructure, and deal with complaints, stressing that UNRWA does not provide the necessary assistance to refugees. There are no 4 clinics in the camp and there are no hospitals and we depend on one hospital outside the camp. In addition to the large shortage of medical personnel, and as for drugs for incurable diseases, they are not available, although asthma and lung cancer are common in the camp, so the housing is unhealthy because it does not see the sun, and this is a tragedy especially that 35% of the population is children.
As for material aid, it is provided only to the poorest group, and it does not exceed 13% of the total number of refugees, and unemployment in the camp reaches more than 70%, especially after the refugee is required to have a work permit, and many have been laid off from their jobs. Abdel Nasser Al-Saadi, Director of Ain El-Helweh Camp Services, added that there are several problems in the camp, including that there are areas outside the coverage of UNRWA services because they are outside the designated area of the camp, and about 40,000 refugees live in them. These are deprived of basic services such as some educational and health services and garbage collection, which leads to the spread of Insects and diseases.
Al-Saadi added, “The winter season imposes on us an unfortunate reality. There are homes in urgent need of restoration and a problem with heating. We have a sewage problem and the camp is drowning in flood water every year.
Children of "Ain al-Hilweh"
We found him playing in one of the alleys of the camp. His name is Ali Darwish “7 years”, telling us: “I went to school, but I was dreaming of being a doctor, and I dreamed of also buying my own“ clothes ”and a toy figure of Spiderman. I really wish to eat chocolate. As for Ziad Youssef, in grade 11, His dream is to become an engineer, and about what he suffers most in the camp, he says, "Electricity is cut off and there is no place to play."
Rahaf Hassanein, 8 years old, summed up her wishes, saying: “I wish to buy a set of earrings, sandals and a jacket because I am cold, and I wish to eat meat, but my mother did not do it,” adds Rahaf, “I told my mother that I wish to go to school to become a doctor, but I don't go.”
Hajjah Samira, the mother of two young men and her husband is deceased, she says: “I have been in the camp for more than 30 years. I suffer from asthma and many suffer from the same disease because our houses do not allow the sun. I work in collecting garbage to raise my children. If I stopped working for one day we won’t find money for food. The medication is not available in UNRWA health centers except for Panadol tablets, the doctor fee costs 50 thousand pounds ... saying, “Please God help us."
Under a roof partially covered by old torn covers while the other is in the open, next to it is a rickety iron bed floating over what looks like a pool of sewage water, Sami Howidi sits inside his house in the camp, he said: “I make tiles, and I came here in 1985 and I have 4 children. In the winter, the house is filled with rain and we drain it. Our condition has deteriorated further with the decline of the lira. "We receive irregular assistance from UNRWA that does not cover our needs," he added.
Refugees suffer the harshness of life while the burdens of the state are increasing, a country that can no longer stand any other burdens. Would the concerned parties make their efforts to resolve the crisis and other crises so that Lebanon returns to its smile?
This article is part of a series of articles on Lebanon by Iman Hanna. Hanna has taken a 30-day trip to monitor the crises in Lebanon and the suffering of the people