The humanitarian impact of the Beirut explosion
Recovery from the Beirut explosion will be daunting as Lebanon is already facing an economic crisis, an influx of refugees, and a new spike in Covid-19 cases.
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After decades of working with refugees and people affected by conflict, Concern knows that becoming a refugee is not a choice — it’s a last resort. After feeling their homes, where do the majority end up living?
Once again the plight of refugees is front page news across the world. President Trump’s executive order to suspend travel from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia has provoked a wave of protest in the US and in numerous other countries as well as condemnation from a number of international leaders, politicians and NGOs. Concern US released this statement.
The Geneva Refugee Convention requires the international community to take in refugees fleeing from conflict and persecution on humanitarian grounds. All signatory states are obliged to provide refuge.
The US President’s order comes at a time when the world has the highest levels of displacement on record. Statistics released last year from the UNHCR reveal that 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, a majority under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. Each day 34,000 people – the population of Exmouth - are forcibly displaced from where they live.
As demonstrated by this graphic from the UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, a majority of the displaced are being hosted not in Europe or the Americas, but in Africa and the Middle East. Turkey hosts 2.5 million refugees, the most in the world, and Lebanon is third on the top hosting list. Concern works in both these countries supporting refugees who have fled the civil war in Syria.
Lebanon hosts the highest per capita ratio of refugees in the world, with over a million displaced Syrians currently living there – 25% of the total population of the country. In an attempt to escape the horror of the Syrian conflict, thousands crossed the border to neighbouring Lebanon. The country is struggling to deal with the overcrowding and helping people meet basic needs and many families are virtually homeless.
With your support, and with funding from the UK aid budget, Concern has helped make conditions more bearable for refugee families. We’ve reached over 140,000 people in Lebanon – giving them access to shelter, clean drinking water and hygiene kits.
Concern has been working to help Syrian refugee communities by distributing essentials like warm winter clothes, tarpaulins, stoves, blankets, fuel vouchers and repair kits so that families can stay warm over the winter.
We are also working with families to help them improve the quality of their living accommodation. Under this programme we provide building materials and technical support for renovations, the construction of latrines and the provision of water access.
Your support has also helped Concern offer children and young people the chance to start learning again. Our education programmes in Lebanon provide 6,000 Syrian children the chance to carrying on with their education and helps them prepare to integrate into the Lebanese school system. By continuing their education, these children have renewed hope for their future.
Beyond education for the youngest refugees, your support and UK aid is giving families the strength to get through each day. We run a host of activities helping Syrians who have been caught up in years of war. We encourage Syrian men living in Lebanon to take part in men’s groups which aim to train men in positive coping strategies such as non-violent communication and conflict resolution.
Rashad, a father of two originally from Homs Province, who spent weeks in prison in Damascus before escaping across the border into Lebanon. “Being a refugee is something very hard. I had lost my identity. This [group] gave us the chance to take control of our own lives.”
We are also giving women - both Syrian refugees and local Lebanese women – the chance to get together to share the skill of embroidery. Selling what they make gives these women a vital income, and the sessions themselves bring warmth, hope and friendship.
Somehow it gives us the strength to keep going.