More than one million registered refugees are currently living in Lebanon, plus several hundreds of thousands who are not registered. With approximately 4 million Lebanese citizens, refugees make up about a third of the whole population. Translated to the situation in Germany, the number would be as high as 24 million.
Unlike in Germany, however, the conditions to receive refugees are far more complicated in Lebanon: The economy is unstable and approximately one third of the population lives below the poverty line. There are still infrastructural deficits due to civil war and military conflict with Israel. In part, government agencies are corrupt and ineffective, resulting in problems concerning power and water supply as well as waste collection services. Social issues and conflicts between militant groups also play their part. The rapid increase of refugee numbers has made the country reach its breaking point.
New Project in Lebanon
In addition to programs in Syria and Jordan, Cap Anamur has launched a new project in Lebanon to extend our aid for Syrian refguees. During a first visit in December 2016 Bernd Göken, Cap Anamur’s executive director, visited several refugee camps and held talks with government and UNHCR officials. A second Cap Anamur team has been on-site for several weeks now: Medical practitioner Lothar Winkler, who has already worked with Cap Anamur several times, and Hassan Basma, who is Lebanese and has good knowledge of the country. Together, they are currently preparing the start of the project, focusing on free medical aid for refugees as well as Lebanese citizens in need of help. In contrast to Jordan or Turkey, however, Lebanon is not equipped with large refugee camps; they vary in size and are located in different parts of the country – some house a hundred families, others only five. Up to ten family members live in makeshift sheds, buildings that are still under construction or temporary tents. It gets cold during the winter months and most families do not have access to heating – but at the very least, most camps do provide sufficient sanitary facilities.
Not enough to survive
Every family, regardless of size, receives 105 Dollars by the UN Refugee Agency. With food prices similar to our own this is far from enough. Refugees also have to pay rent for the floor space they occupy, which is 350 Dollars. Having barely enough to survive, many Syrians additionally work in agriculture. Since the salary does not cover costly medical care, seeing a doctor is only rarely possible.
Living conditions in refugee camps are atrocious and improvement is not yet on the horizon; a lot of Syrians are hoping to be able to go back to Syria soon. This possibility, however, seems to be far out of reach – which is why they have to be content with at least being safe from war and bombings.