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World Refugee Day

#WorldRefugeeDay

In recent years civil war in Syria has transformed what was once a peaceful nation, to a violent one. The enormity of the conflict forced many to flee their homes and homeland. Millions of Syrians are internally displaced, and nearly 5 million have become refugees outside of Syria. At least 1.5 million refugees are registered in Lebanon.

Refugee walking

Depending on their situation, refugees have no choice but to leave behind their possessions, and many arrive in Lebanon with only the clothes they are wearing.

Syrian refugees settle in the city or, if they cannot afford to live in Beirut, they settle in refugee camps near their country’s border.

Poverty-stricken neighbourhoods in Beirut provide small apartment accommodations in poor condition for refugee families. Apartments are often in deteriorating buildings that have no water. Tenants use buckets and find water elsewhere, and people often fight over water.

UNHCR camp

Refugees in Bekaa Valley live in makeshift houses made of wood sheets and tarp. Each house has a bathroom, kitchen and sleeping rooms. The bathroom and kitchen are shared between multiple families, and each family has one sleeping room to themselves.

Refugees are offered a stipend to assist their needs. Unfortunately, the amount is usually only enough to cover the expense of their rent—leaving families without the means to afford food, medicine and other needs.

Lebanon’s residency policies have also made it difficult for refugees to maintain their legal status, which makes it hard for them to access employment, medical care, education etc. (Khawaja, 2017).   

The cost of living is high in Lebanon. To make ends meet, some refugees begin working illegally in the country. In Lebanon, refugees from Syria can be taken advantage of because of the strife between the ethnic groups, leading to unfair treatment,  long hours and refusal to pay for work. Some refugees even beg on the streets for money.

The severity of their situations often leads to Syrian children working and missing school during the day.

Refugees mainly get their food from churches and NGOs. They wait in line to collect as much as they can, all depending on when food is being distributed.

The majority of Syrian refugees long to return to their home country, while others want to start over in their new, unfamiliar home.

Syrian refugees suffer from post-traumatic stress as they are victims of war who have experienced traumatic situations. Refugee children witness bombs and missiles, shooting and killings before their eyes. The pain and trauma that exists for refugees are unfathomable.

Where will we end up? Will we ever return home? Will our children receive a proper education? And will we be able to have good jobs to support our family?

These are only some of the questions they ask themselves daily.

Refugee Girls

All of these realities exist for the millions of refugees in our world. “Every minute, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution and terror.” (UN.org).

There are over 70.8  million displaced people in our world currently (United Nations). Today, on World Refugee Day, consider changing the life of a refugee in need.

Khawaja, B. (2017, March 14). Lebanon Policy Leaves ‘Second-Class’ Syrians Vulnerable to Return: HRW. Retrieved June 18, 2019, from https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2017/03/14/lebanon-policy-leaves-second-class-syrians-vulnerable-to-return-hrw 

United Nations. (n.d.). Figures at a Glance. Retrieved from https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

Un.org. (n.d.). World Refugee Day, 20 June – Background. [online] Available at: https://www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday/background.shtml [Accessed 7 Jun. 2019].

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Jillian Olazabal
is the Content Writer for Partners International Canada. She attended Manhattanville College in New York, studying Sociology with a minor in Studio Art and also went on to pursue her graduate studies in education. Jillian is enamoured by cultures around the world—each with their own richness and beauty. Love has brought her to an amazingly diverse country where she is learning to be led by God each day.