Winterization Support To Palestinian Refugee Families From Syria (Prs) And Host Families In Ein El Hilweh Camp And Wadi Zeine Gathering (Saïda Region)
Syrian refugee crisis: Lebanon is currently facing one of the worst refugee crises in its history. As the violence has increased, so have the flows of refugees into Lebanon. As of September 2013, UNHCR notes that upwards of 726,000 Syrian refugees having been registered or in contact. The real number is likely to exceed more than 1.2 million (Government of Lebanon estimate). With more than one in four persons on the Lebanese territory now a Syrian refugee, the country's resiliency is strained to the limit. Palestinian refugees from Syria: As of mid-August, the Lebanese Government has tightened entry requirements for Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS), resulting in a dramatic decrease in the numbers of PRS entering Lebanon. It has also contributed to a large decrease in UNRWA's latest PRS estimates in Lebanon. Many PRS were travelling back and forth between Syria and Lebanon, but many now find themselves unable to re-enter Lebanon. Thus, in early September, UNRWA announced that its latest headcount of PRS in Lebanon was revised downwards to approximately 45,000 (from a peak estimate of 93,000). This project's targets are based on these revised population statistics. UNRWA in Lebanon is in an under-funded position to single-handedly manage a large inflow of Palestinian refugees from Syria. The existing structures—schools, health clinics, and social services—provided by UNRWA were already over-crowded and over-whelmed and cannot accommodate a large inflow of PRS. There were approximately 400,000 Palestinians prior to the crisis, so UNRWA now charged with serving an additional 10% of the population on much the same resources as it had previously. However, despite these additional needs, the UNRWA appeal for 2013 is only about 70% funded. As such, UNRWA relies upon partners like ANERA to fill in the gaps and/or complement its services with holistic approaches. For this project in particular, UNRWA requested ANERA to focus on the refugee camps in the Saïda region, and especially on Ain el Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, as it is hosting a large number of PRS families.
Palestinians from Syria arrive in Lebanon with particularly acute needs—even worse than those of other Syrian refugees. Firstly, Palestinian refugees in Syria have not been working over the past two years as the Syrian economy crashed following the start of the war. Palestinians usually filled day-laborer and unskilled positions in Syria, most of which dried up during the economic crisis that began with the violence and sanctions against the country. Secondly, Palestinians with any savings at all lost their value when those savings were brought to Lebanon. A combination of a poor exchange rate between Syrian pounds and Lebanese pounds (which are pegged to the US dollar) as well as prices in Lebanon which are at least triple those in Syria meant that savings evaporated almost on arrival in Lebanon. Thirdly, as the conflict continues in Syria, this prolonged displacement is creating additional needs. Refugees who got assistance when they arrived in Lebanon remain in need of further humanitarian aid because they have not able to find jobs since arriving in Lebanon. In fact, there are significant amounts of PRS who are returning to Syria, preferring to survive in a war zone because the economic conditions are nearly impossible for survival in Lebanon.
Thus, Palestinians are in need of critical aid almost from the moment of arriving in Lebanon. Unlike other Syrian refugees, the response for their humanitarian aid needs is particularly inadequate. Their host families were already well below the poverty line, and the burden of additional persons in their households requires families to make extreme sacrifices. On top of this situation, there are signs of tensions among Palestinians in Lebanon, host communities and the Palestinians from Syria. As aid for Palestinians in Lebanon has been decreasing, they see that aid is now increasing for the Syrian refugee crisis. Tensions are increasing between the two groups on a community and political level. At the household level, host families—already living in poverty and in cramped conditions—are experienced severe stress and strain to add more persons to their homes and to their financial needs.