The main breadwinner in the family, Nawras had a regular job in Syria as a house painter. As a refugee in Lebanon, he receives from UNRWA a regular donation of USD40 and a coupon of USD25 to make essential purchases. He says he it is impossible to provide for his family or live in any sort of comfort.
“The house is too small to accommodate us; we have no personal privacy. Many problems and family disputes are caused by this overcrowding”, he says.
Many Palestinian families from Syria cannot afford to pay rent in more expensive Lebanon. A relative in the camp helps to cover Nawras’s USD300 house rent, he says; the cheapest that he could find. Other refugees are living with Palestinian host families, who are themselves suffering from poverty.
In Shatila camp, Beirut, three entire families are sheltering in a room with a makeshift kitchen. Their host is an elderly Palestinian woman who fled her home in historic Palestine, “1000 years ago”, she says. She is hosting her guests because their families hosted her in Syria during the Lebanese civil war of the 1980s. “It’s time for me to pay them back; I can’t leave them while they are displaced”.
She is not hopeful for the future of the Palestine refugee community. “I’ve experienced wars, displacement, hunger, misery”, she says. “It just continues”.
One of the most vulnerable communities in Syria, Palestine refugees have been seriously affected by events on the ground; most now rely on UNRWA as their sole means of support. Several UNRWA schools within Syria are currently acting as a last place of refuge for 9,000 people.