More than 1.2 million refugees from Syria are observing the holy month of Ramadan in Lebanon, far away from their homes and communities.
Among them are 44,000 Palestinians who fled Syria and had nowhere else to go except Lebanon’s impoverished Palestinian refugee camps and gatherings. Surviving every day is hard both emotionally and physically and Ramadan makes it even harder. Most say they long for home more than any other time of the year.
“Ramadan is a time for family,” says Maryam, a 24-year-old mother of two. Maryam fled Yarmouk camp in Syria three years ago and sought refuge with her family in Burj El Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut. “It’s not the same,” she explains. “We fast for 16 hours and wait for the evening meal—iftar. But, it has become more and more difficult to serve a single proper meal for my family.”
This Ramadan, Maryam found great relief thanks to the timely distribution of food packages for Syrian refugees. She says her kitchen was filled with a variety of food items that could feed the family for the whole month.
Anera, with generous support from Zakat Foundation and hundreds of individual donors, was able to distribute more than 900 food packages to 900 families, with enough to feed them for the whole month. Each food package contained a variety of essentials like rice, lentils, beans, pasta, cheese, dates, sugar, tea, milk and the traditional Jallab juice.
Ramadan for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Camps
Ramadan is usually a festive holiday but in Burj El Barajneh residents are faced with soaring prices, poverty, and unemployment. Buying basic foods is out of the reach for Maryam and her compatriots from Yarmouk.
The camp’s Najdeh Association buzzed with energy as staff and volunteers shuffled distribution lists, handed out parcels and helped carry the boxes to families around the camp. Anera in-kind health manager Dima Zayat said the food packages were a welcome relief for refugees who have suffered so much. “We are glad we were able to distribute these big parcels on time. Ramadan is supposed to be a time of joy and sharing and now you can see how happy the young children are to help their parents carry the gift boxes back home.”
As the families carry the food packages through the camp’s narrow dark alleys, the sounds of good cheer echoes along the wall as neighbors greet each other with a cheerful “Ramadan Kareem.” But there’s a touch of nostalgia among the Syrian refugees who respond, “Hopefully next Ramadan will be in Syria.”