Abdul and his wife, Nasra sit unresponsively next to each other on a well worn mat, as the drizzle trickles on the canvas top of their hodgepodge shelter and makes a noisy appearance while doing so. What surrounds them are a couple of pillows, a blanket, dishes and few clay pots, all of which are wrapped in plastic and arranged on solid cemented blocks to prevent them from getting drenched in the rain.
Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
80 years old Abdul, with his sky-blue eyes brimming with sorrow and desiccated face with profound outlines, speaks out against the clamor of rain and says, “All we had last night to protect ourselves from the cold was a piece of blanket and nothing else”
With electricity blackouts, grounds converting to swamps and the concrete tents to a drenched rag, harsh rains have made life difficult for the Syrian Refugees residing in Akkar, northernmost district in Lebanon; the poorest of all.
This is assumed to be the beginning of winter calamity, which according to few scientists is the worst climatic condition Lebanon has experienced over the century. The tons of Syrian refugees who are here with a hope of survival are susceptible to this weather and have a little to no protection against the cold. Few are lucky enough to get hold of concrete shells while many have to keep building shelters with cloth scraps and woods at different spots. In any case, the threat to this group of people is undeniably alarming.
Yara, a widowed woman and a mother to four children had to leave Syria after the demise of her husband and since then it has been a tough ride for her. Cluttered in a group of around 30 families of Syrian origin who live across the road on a dusty scrap of land, Yara is forced to take up any work beyond her resistance and strength, just in order to feed her family.
Following the rain, she and her companions burrowed a gutter and placed rocks to support the fence but nothing worked out as the water kept sipping in. “Whole night we all had to clump together owing to the chilly weather and few pieces of cotton to protect us” says Yara in a trembling voice as she complains about the unwanted rain waters in her place of comfort.
With limited amount of resources and scarcity of employment nearby, thousands of refugees have very little to feel good about. They certainly are not hopeful of getting back their homes, their lost ones and the life which took several years to establish. It’s like peace for those who died in the war and even a greater battle for those who are alive.
With a financial crisis and not much work around, one cannot simply expect these people to back themselves up with warm clothes or a better shelter. It’s depressing to see how a worthless piece of land is being charged $30 a month given the situation like this and how it makes things difficult for the refugees to balance other necessities of life.
Surrounding the darkness of the cloud, there is always silver lining no matter how lean and slender. Organizations such as Concern Worldwide have extended their helping hands toward this cause and have taken measures to protect the refugees from the aftermath of wet-cold. Families in the tented settlements of Akkar who live merely in wood shells or without any adequate protection against the cold have been handed tarps by UHNCR. However, considering the recent climatic changes, it might not be enough as a defense, but there is at least something to cover up.
Concern is working hard to provide every possible support to hundreds of Syrian refugees who have almost lost faith in humanity. It has promised every refugee a couple of blankets, fuel coupons and heating stoves in addition to sweatshirts and shoes for children. Moreover, they have also planned to rebuild the tented settlements in a way that will not encourage water leakage during rains.
Their main aim is to make sure no one is left out whether it’s about distributing a sandbag or a food pack. Irrespective of all the support and assistance, the bitter truth holds it place strong and the refugees are aware of the fact that things may get worse as the day progresses. They have already lost all hopes of a better life and are just living for the sake of it, even though in a parallel universe.
In the meantime, they are gearing up for the next session of wet weather, in quest of survival on a land that doesn’t belong to them. In spite of all this happening, they have worked together as a unit to prepare the best facilities for themselves.
Circumstances are such that apart from men and women, even children have to follow their path with feet drowned in plastic and body in worn pieces of fabric; all of which adds to the misery of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Things are even more difficult for aged couples like Abdul and Nasra who have no successor to rely upon and are entirely dependent on support from their neighboring refugees.
As we report, Yara requests one of her companions to repair the window which got damaged last night due to bad weather. Accordingly, he sets himself up to frame a wooden window against the fence.
In the meantime, Yara says, with her hands pointing toward the sky “Each day here seems year long. We lived once. Now we don’t. We call for God and you”. Same is the story of hundreds of Yaras in Lebanon for whom God is the last hope.