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WILPF Lebanon Visits Abu Khaled Refugee Camp

5 February 2014

Few weeks ago, Maha Aboul Hosn, Bushra Kadi, Aida Burnett-Cargill and Nouha Ghosn from WILPF Lebanon visited Abu Khaled Refugee Camp. Read their report from the visit and see photos from inside the camp. Report by Nouha Ghosn. Photos by Aida Burnett-Cargill.

A visit to the Refugee Camps

For a year now, we’ve been helping displaced families that fled their war-torn country to stay in Beirut. Some families rented apartments, some stayed with relatives, and some rented rooms, garages or what ever they could find to put a roof over their head. Others, who could not afford it stayed under bridges or even on the roadside.

A few weeks ago, we heard that thousands of new refugees are flooding the villages of Bequaa Valley, where the weather is very cold compared to Beirut. We decided to go and visit to know their needs, since no aid is reaching them as of yet.

We visited Saadnayel, a village not far from the Syrian boarders. According to a shop owner there, the influx of the refugees has exceeded the number of the residents.

After sending an urgent cry to help the Syrian refugees, we got responses from our WILPF Sections. So we decided to visit remote campsites in Saadnayel. The refugees there all live in deserted garages, rented rooms, but most of the Syrians live in miserable tents.

We visited what is called Abu Khaled camp. It consists of 17 tents, or what looks like a tent with cemented floors and an electric bulb. The women there begged us to talk to the landowner to reduce the rent. They pay $100 a month for rent and $6 for electricity. They share one bathroom. When asked what their urgent need was, they all asked for help with rent. As we have limited amount of money, we could not help.

We moved on to another camp called Khair Eddine. I cannot describe the wretchedness there. The floor of the tent is simply soil and stones. No carpet, mat or anything the children can sit upon. In the corner, there were two rolls…what looked like thick pads that are used to sleep on. Seeing my face, the women explained that they took turns sleeping. They used one blanket to cover the ground to keep the beds clean and another blanket for cover.

The weather is cold, 7 to 10 degrees Celsius. Most of the children are sick, especially with ear infection, cold, coughing with runny noses. And there is no water or electricity in the tents; they have to go to certain place for water. There is one bathroom for all of the 32 families that live there, with more families showing up on daily basis.

We decided to get them the necessities: carpets, mats, or any covering for the ground, mattresses, warm blankets and clothes. This is what we did in pictures:

We took a truck filled with mattresses, mats, warm blankets, clothes and shoes:

Picture of truck
©Aida Burnett-Cargill

People were waiting for us:

WILPF Lebanon arriving at the camp
©Aida Burnett-Cargill
WILPF Lebanon distributing aid
©Aida Burnett-Cargill

We distributed all that we had:

WILPF Lebanon distributing aid
©Aida Burnett-Cargill
WILPF Lebanon distributing aid
©Aida Burnett-Cargill
More people are arriving
©Aida Burnett-Cargill


We noticed that many families did not get anything because they came after our first visit. So we decided to register the new arrivals with their children. We wrote down the names of the new families and their needs:

Children in the refugee camp
©Aida Burnett-Cargill
Children in the refugee camp
©Aida Burnett-Cargill

WILPF Lebanon writing down names of families in the refugee camp
©Aida Burnett-Cargill

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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