From 17 to 22 June, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) organized a new round of cash distributions for Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) who have fled the long-running conflict for various parts of Lebanon.
More than 18,300 Palestine refugee families, a total of around 62,000 individuals, benefited from the distribution. Families of up to three individuals received LBP 200,000 (US$ 133) for housing assistance, while larger families received LBP 300,000 (US$ 200). In addition, each family member received LBP 50,000 (US$ 33) for food assistance.
In Saida, one of the beneficiaries was 52-year-old Um Ahmed, a widow who now lives in Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp with eight children. They live in one of the camp’s residential complexes inhabited by PRS, where every facility, including toilets and kitchen, is shared by several refugee families.
Ever since she left Syria, Um Ahmed has struggled every day to provide for her family. Her sons did not enrol in school this year; she explained that “It is better for them to work,” considering the family’s financial situation. She added, ”I can‘t bear the burdens of life by myself. I can barely secure our daily food. My children should depend on themselves and help me in raising their younger brothers.”
Um Fouad, who, at 47, is now living in Wavel refugee camp with her two children, had tears in her eyes as she collected her assistance at a distribution site in Beqaa. “I’m stuck,” she said. “I keep on travelling between Syria and Lebanon. I fled Syria when the situation in our area got worse, and here in Lebanon I’ll have to leave when the high living expenses become unmanageable.”
“Life is tough here,” Um Fouad continued, “but I’m happy today to receive some cash. It makes a world of difference in our lives. People here are caught between two fires; I wish we could receive such distributions on monthly basis. They are our only source of income under these suffocating living conditions.”
The amount and frequency of the distributions for food and housing assistance depend on the Agency’s funding situation; in this period, UNRWA distributed a total of around US$ 5 million to PRS in Lebanon. In addition to this form of support, UNRWA also provides education and health services to PRS, along with legal advice and various awareness-raising sessions on, for example, the importance of education, summer recreational activities for children and health concerns such as scabies and lice.