According to the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR), as of June 30, 2016, the number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon is 1,033,513, 53.5% of which are under the age of 18. Many more are not registered, and rumor has it that the actual number is around 1,500,000.
The above picture was taken at 5:30 am at the Manara beach in Beirut. A few refugees built a little space on the shore to sleep in. This man was up early, but others were still asleep (we didn’t take their photo to protect their privacy).
In a matter of days, the weather will start to get colder, with frequent rain. Where will they go?
Thousands of refugees are housed in informal camps: tents and shacks set on muddy grounds in the Bekaa valley and North Lebanon. Snow covers most of these areas in the winter, making them vulnerable to illnesses and even death. In January 2015, three Syrian refugees froze to death including a five year-old. To make matters worse, this was not the only time such a tragedy happened.
Many other refugees, especially those in Beirut, remain homeless. While massive luxurious buildings that often remain almost entirely vacant are being propped up daily, refugees, be it individuals or families, are spending their nights on the streets, under bridges, or in this case, on the shore by the Mediterranean Sea.
Only 41% of the required funding ($1,902,410,103) the UNHCR needs has been covered, meaning that $1,127,096,036 is needed to have somewhat adequate aid to support the refugees in Lebanon. The United States and Russia alone are spending millions of dollars a day on the destruction of Syria; what’s their excuse for not being able to provide adequate humanitarian aid?
The Lebanese economy is in bad shape, and it is definitely difficult to provide the adequate support for such a large amount of refugees; however, while the racist Lebanese establishment is using this as an opportunity to scapegoat a community, we have to remember that as civil war survivors ourselves, there is no excuse for us to take part in a racist campaign, and there is no excuse for us to not have the most basic forms of empathy and compassion.
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