Lebanon has the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide with nearly 1.2 million registered* Syrian refugees and Palestine refugees from Syria.
Lebanon currently has no formal camps for refugees. Displaced Syrians are spread across the country and are living in tents, collective shelters, abandoned buildings, and rented apartments. Most have to pay rent, either for the shelter unit, or the plot of land where tents are situated.
As the crisis enters its fifth year, many Syrians in Lebanon are spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. Often living in cramped and overpriced accommodation, with few livelihood opportunities, families’ savings are drying up, and the humanitarian assistance available is not keeping pace with the massive scale of need.
In Lebanon’s Bekaa valley, hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrian families are living in tents or unfinished buildings. In winter, the heavy snow blocks access for water and food trucks, and water tanks freeze, as families struggle to stay warm in sub-zero temperatures.
*Registered with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
1.2 million refugees have fled the conflict in Syria and sought shelter in Lebanon. Many follow their friends and relatives into the same communities, while others choose to reside in areas that they traditionally visited for seasonal agricultural work in Lebanon, before the war.
In Lebanon there are no formal refugee camps. Displaced Syrians are spread across the country in tents, abandoned buildings, shelters, or rented apartments. In the Bekaa Valley, where temperatures can reach -10°C, tents are made of plastic, light wood, cardboard, and tin.
Winter is particularly harsh for the hundreds of thousands of refugees living in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and in high altitude areas around the country. Um Ahmad crossed the mountains into Lebanon with nothing but the clothes she was wearing, and the blanket she now uses to keep warm.
Oxfam and ECHO, through its partners, provide latrines, water, and hygiene and sanitation services to tented settlements and collective shelters in Lebanon. For Mariam, and many displaced Syrians, this is their only source of clean potable water.
Um Ahmad and Um Aziz just got home from the field, where they pick olives for 6USD per day. Each pays 200USD a month, for the rooms they share with other families in a collective shelter in North Lebanon.
The shelter in Kfarsaroun, North Lebanon was originally abandoned. As families from Syria started arriving in Lebanon, the landlord renovated it , split it into units, and rented rooms out for 250USD per month.
It’s a grim outlook for many Syrians currently living in Lebanon. They’re unable to go back home, humanitarian needs continue to rise and resources in the hosting communities are diminishing. Lebanon is the neighbouring country hardest hit by the Syria crisis, hosting nearly 1.2 million Syrian refugees.
Four years into the crisis, most refugees have depleted their savings and now rely on humanitarian assistance for food, and other needs. As war in Syria rages on, many people have little hope that the situation will get better anytime soon.
Asia, 37, wants nothing but safety and stability for her one-year-old daughter. Back in Syria, the family owned a house and agricultural lands that they tended. “…And at the end of the day, we used to go back home,” she says.