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:
People were waiting for us:
We distributed all that we had:
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: