Syrian Refugee Families Face Bitter Winter in Lebanon
In the northern village of Khirbet Daoud, not far from the Lebanese-Syrian border, lives Maamoun with his wife and two daughters. Maamoun is a Syrian farmer who owned a chicken farm business back in his hometown of Homs, Syria. Now his family lives in an informal tented settlement that used to be a farm of hen coops. It now accommodates 500 Syrian refugee families.
“Four years ago, a stray bullet hit me during clashes in Homs, and I was physically disabled,” Maamoun said. “As my case was very critical, the Red Cross transferred me to Lebanon and then my family followed.”
This February, Maamoun received a winter humanitarian relief package that included clothes, shoes and activity books for his two daughters, Walaa and Zahraa. The kit also included a rechargeable battery light, which is much needed during the long winter nights and frequent electricity cut offs where they live.
“It’s been a long time since I got new clothes. I’m so happy, and they’re my favorite color too, pink,” said Walaa shyly.
Thanks to United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), a total of 1,710 winter kits were distributed – through ANERA and its local partners – to vulnerable Syrian refugee families in five different villages near the Lebanese-Syrian borders in the Wadi Khaled region.
“My health condition makes it very hard for me to move and work, and my wife cannot work either as she has to look after the girls,” said Maamoun. The family has no source of income and relies on support from neighboring refugee families and local philanthropists. “I am very grateful for these kits,” said Maamoun. “The winter kits brought smiles to my daughters at a time we were all losing hope.”
Helping Syrian Refugee Families in Lebanon’s Poorest Region
The Akkar governorate, where the distribution took place, is known to be one of the most deprived regions in Lebanon. According to UNOCHA, there are more than 266,000 Syrian refugees there, and the area hosts about 440 informal tent settlements. The winter kit distribution took place in five localities: Khirbet Daoud, Berkayel, Aamayer, Mashta Hasan, and Mashta Hammoud, all of which marked as the ‘most vulnerable’ localities in the region by UNHCR.
In order to spread awareness among refugees in Lebanon on healthy practices during winter, an activity book was passed to young children along with the distribution. The illustrated activity book provides simple messages on how to stay warm and avoid illnesses during winter.
Khreibet Daoud, where Maamoun resides, is known for its very cold winter, as is also the case in neighboring villages. This year, several snow storms hit the region, making the winter assistance they received a cherished gift for the family.