More Than 3,000 Syrian Refugee Children In Lebanon Face Eviction From Homes Ahead Of Winter
The eviction of some 6,000 Syrian refugees, including an estimated 3,200 children, living on the outskirts of Beirut must be stopped immediately, Save the Children said today.
In recent weeks, the refugees, who have been living in rented private accommodation in al-Hadath neighbourhood, were given eviction notices by local authorities and told they must leave their home in just 10 days allegedly for violating Lebanon’s Labour Law. So far, at least 28 families have already had to leave and many still haven’t found an alternative place to stay. Those who have stayed are facing increasing pressure to leave and fear they will be thrown out onto the streets in the coming days.
The evictions are the first to hit the area but come amidst growing calls for Syrian refugees to return to Syria, and follow on from various reports of evictions elsewhere in Lebanon.
The evictions risk putting extremely vulnerable children in further danger, as families now face ending up on the streets as the harsh winter approaches. The evictions will force many children to drop out of school, and are likely to severely affect their physical and psychological wellbeing.
“These evictions are having an unimaginable toll on very vulnerable children who have already been uprooted from their homes at least once, suffered through war and extreme violence and now face the trauma of losing their homes once again,” said Allison Zelkowitz, Save the Children’s Country Director in Lebanon.
“If the evictions are not halted, these children could become destitute and homeless and risk losing what little sense of safety and normality they have had.
“More than six years ago Lebanon welcomed these children and provided them a place of refuge. The country has been extremely generous in its support and has lived up to its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but it cannot turn its back on refugee children now. It must continue to protect these children, not kick them out onto the streets. We call on the municipal and national authorities to immediately stop these evictions before more children are put at risk.”
Tarek*, who was evicted with his wife and 11-month-old baby, “We were told to leave because Syrians were not welcome in the area. I had to move out before I got kicked out. I couldn’t imagine being forced to leave in the middle of the night like others were, so I saved my dignity and left with my wife. My 11-month-old baby was in hospital receiving treatment at the time. I also lost my job as a result. The situation is very desperate. I am worried about my family. I am not sure how we will get by."
Since the outbreak of the war in Syria, Lebanon has taken in more than one million registered refugees, who now make up some 25 to 30 percent of the total population. International donors have failed to provide enough support to host countries, with the regional refugee response less than 50% funded.
Many of the children in al-Hadath have managed to enrol at schools in the area, however after being evicted they may face challenges finding new places. Many schools in Lebanon are full, and across the country nearly 300,000 Syrian refugee children are out of school.
As the evictions go ahead, Save the Children is mobilising to provide financial support to evicted families to help them meet their children’s most critical needs.
*Name changed for protection
If you have been affected by the Hadath Municipality’s decision, you can get in touch with Save the Children at 01-397 509
Notes to editors
Families in al-Hadath, on the southern edge of Beirut, first started receiving eviction notices on 15th October, giving them 10-days’ notice to leave the area. So far at least 28 families have left, while others remain and are trying to appeal the decision.
Restrictions in access to the labour market for refugee families are used to justify evictions. Under Lebanese Labour Law, Syrian refugees are only allowed to work in certain sectors, such as construction and cleaning. In al-Hadath, only those families working in construction or cleaning are exempt and allowed to remain – families involved in other professions or informal work have been told to leave.
Save the Children has worked in Lebanon since 1953. Last year we supported nearly 400,000 people – including 225,000 children – by providing education, shelter, child protection, and projects to improve families’ livelihoods and children’s rights. We work with Lebanese and Syrian communities across the country.
For further information and media requests please contact:
Ahmed Bayram, Save the Children Media and Communications Officer
+961 71 562855
Alia Awada, Acting Media Advocacy and Communications Manager
+961 70 946 993