accessibility & help

Hundreds of families stuck in the mud

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In northern Lebanon, a cluster of home-made tents in a muddy field is home for about 100 Syrian refugee families.

Since crossing the border they have coped with disease, storms and unaffordable rents. Life is hard, and they hope to return to Syria one day – but more people are joining them every month.

When the families started to arrive here two years ago they got water from a nearby well, but it made the children sick with vomiting and diarrhoea.

Community leader Jamal Abu Yaroub says: “The Lebanese Red Cross came and took a sample of water, they told us it is polluted and we shouldn’t drink it, but there was nothing else. We were boiling it then waiting for it to cool. But it was making the children sick and we didn’t have the money to take them to the doctors.”

The Lebanese Red Cross, a partner of the British Red Cross, brought the community vital chlorine and filter kits, which families use to make their water safe. It’s not the only help they have received.

“The Red Cross gave us everything”

Jamal says: “The Red Cross gave us everything. Every week they give us food parcels and hygiene kits. They gave us blankets, heaters and even diesel. Even when the storms came, they brought us tarpaulins to protect the shelter.”

There are no official refugee camps in Lebanon, but about 1,300 tented settlements like Jamal’s have sprung up around the country.

The land the families camp on is rented from a local farmer. Each family pays $10 (about £7) a month to pitch here. But refugees cannot work legally, and most have little or no money. So the camp’s residents are being driven into debt.

Jamal says: “We built the houses from nothing. It was very difficult to get the wood but local merchants helped us with some discounts, and the Red Cross gave us this stove heater to keep the tents warm.”

Welcoming new arrivals

“We don’t like it here, we don’t want to be here, and we hope one day to return home. But for now we thank the Red Cross for their help. Last month we had seven families arrive. We don’t have much, but we know what they are going through and we welcome them.”

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