Syrian refugees in Lebanon are facing another winter in tattered tents not suitable for habitation, struggling to keep what little belongings they have from the winter rains that often flood the camps with water and mud. Despite worsening conditions, the availability of aid has gone down.
In Camp Zero-Eleven in the Bekaa Valley, dozens of Syrian refugees are living in tattered, worn-out tents that are no longer suitable for habitation. They leak whenever it rains and offer little protection to the storms and cold that hit the countryside of Lebanon during winter time. And yet, for many of them, these meagre shelters are their only source of protection from the elements. The plight of the Syrians here and other parts of Lebanon is a tragedy that repeats practically every year.
Recent heavy rains in the region have made things even harder for the refugees here. Many tents were flooded and even washed away by the floodwaters, forcing the refugees out of their shelters. While some of them managed to find protection in the nearby refugee camps, many others were not as fortunate. Instead, they spent the night out in the open. What little furniture, clothing and bedding they had were all waterlogged and drenched in mud.
The availability of humanitarian aid has been especially bad this year. The economic crisis in Lebanon, the increasing lack of attention on the Syrian conflict and the growing anti-refugee sentiments both in the country and around the world have all contributed to the growing unavailability of aid. Some local aid groups are providing help and the district’s municipality has been helping the refugees pump out the water. Some aid groups even brought excavators to dig trenches to channel the water away. But on the whole, the refugees here are getting little to no help.
The refugees here have few options. Anti-refugee sentiments and downwards economic turn is making gainful employment harder for these refugees. Returning to Syria is an option. However, with the country experiencing an economic meltdown and many refugees potentially facing arrests, things look far from certain.
As such, many of them remain out here, having to face the harsh winter with increasingly fewer means. For most of the refugees here, this is not their first winter exposed to the elements and it will not be their last.