Bracing for What’s Coming in Lebanon
A Nation on the Edge
The war in Gaza has cast a heavy shadow over our hearts here in Lebanon. We find ourselves torn between the profound sorrow and anger we feel for our brothers and sisters in Palestine and the growing concern for Lebanon, a nation seemingly poised on the brink of war as well. It’s as if we’re standing on the edge of war, anxiously awaiting its start.
There are now approximately 20,000 internally displaced people in Lebanon and a growing exodus of people out of the country entirely. The reality of displacement is harsh and unforgiving. The displaced are moving in with relatives or scraping together rent they can scarcely afford – the demand for housing has surged, driving up prices to impossible heights. And families all over the country are also anxiously stocking supplies in their homes, a telling sign of the times.
I reached out yesterday to Rakan, a former colleague who resides in a southern border village significantly affected by the ongoing hostilities with Israel. I expected to hear that he, like many others, had chosen safety and relocated. Yet, his response surprised me. While he had sent his pregnant wife and young child to the relative safety of Beirut, he had chosen to stay behind.
His reasons for staying? “How can I abandon my house and belongings? It’s all I have. I can’t just leave and go.” This statement speaks volumes about the deep-rooted connection between the people of Lebanon and their land, which goes beyond mere possessions. It is about identity, belonging, and a sense of place.
His wife and child, like so many others, have moved in with extended family further north. Space is cramped, privacy is scarce, and the uncertainty of how long this arrangement will last hangs heavy in the air. But, it is a testament to the strength of Lebanon’s people that they find ways to support one another through these trying times.
My conversation with Rakan naturally drifted to our work, highlighting the sense of responsibility that guides our actions. As individuals working in the humanitarian field, we find ourselves caught between the duty to serve and the instinct to seek safety. “We need to take care of our safety, for sure,” he said, “but we cannot turn our back on people in need.”
We at Anera are not military experts and we don’t know what’s coming. But we have the singular focus to help vulnerable people and communities in Lebanon with their needs during crisis. We are determined to stand strong, together, and face whatever lies in store.
But let’s not forget that Lebanon is depleted, after four years of economic collapse. Any breach of security or further displacement would be catastrophic for the civilians caught up in a situation beyond their control. As in every war, it’s the regular people who bear the burden of conflict, as families are displaced, homes lost, and lives disrupted. It is a stark reminder that in war, there are no victors, only victims.
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