Lebanon: Lives shattered once again
In Lebanon, Syrian refugees who fled the war in the hope of rebuilding their lives in a neighbouring country are being caught up in a new tragedy. Last summer's explosion in Beirut worsened the economic and financial situation in the country, which is already in the throes of multiple crises, and plunged the Lebanese population into extreme precariousness, severely affecting Syrian refugees.
"The family is slowly recovering," says Faten Moussa, a Terre des hommes social worker based in Beirut. Behind these few words lies the strength of a Syrian family struggling to survive after their lives were turned upside down again on 4 August 2020. The explosion that took place in the port of Beirut, claiming hundreds of victims and destroying entire neighbourhoods of the capital, took the life of one of the five children of this family and destroyed their home. The young Youssef*, 12 years old, cherished his elder brother, who died in the explosion. In a state of shock since the event, he has just started talking again.
Syrian refugees represent more than 20% of the Lebanese population. Most of them are now living in poverty. Their situation was already difficult before the disaster, but since then, their daily life is unbearable. "Between the economic crisis and the explosion, most of the Syrian refugees have lost their jobs," explains Faten Moussa. There are many obstacles to meeting their needs. "Many Syrian families have lost a family member who was helping to provide their main income," she continues. In Youssef's family, it was the elder brother who provided the income - the father died in Syria. Since then, another siblings has taken over. At the age of 14, Bassem* works long hours in difficult conditions.
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Terre des hommes, which has been active in Lebanon for three decades, responded quickly after the explosion. In collaboration with INSAN, our Lebanese partner, we accompanied around a hundred families by distributing basic necessities, food, hygiene products and financial aid. We also carried out numerous psychosocial activities and offered individual follow-up to children and parents in difficulty. The most severely affected children were referred to psychiatrists or other specialists.
This is the case of Youssef, who receives support from a psychologist. Shocked by the disappearance of his brother, the he withdrew into himself, became aggressive and had suicidal thoughts. After several consultations, he got better and opened up again. As for Bassem, we informed him of his rights and met with his employer to reduce his working hours and increase the frequency of his breaks.
A family that has been shattered once again, but still finds the strength to get up again.
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*To respect their privacy, the names have been changed.
Photo credits: ©Tdh/Bilal Koubaissi