Oxfam International Blogs - Lebanon http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/lebanon en Searching for safety: lessons from Syria's refugees http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-06-21-searching-safety-lessons-syrias-refugees <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>What is life like for Syrian refugees in Lebanon? Oxfam conducted research to find out how safe refugees feel and to understand the challenges they face. For Oxfam researcher Nour Shawaf, it was a humbling process.</strong></p><p><strong></strong>I thought I knew it all, I thought I had seen it, I thought I had read about it, I thought I had heard all their stories… After all, I am Lebanese, I have Syrian and Palestinian friends, I have been interacting with refugees on a regular basis for the past four years, I speak their language and I follow the news closely! Why would I not know it all?</p><p>Well I was definitely wrong. I knew nothing at all.</p><p><strong>"Every time we went to a place the war would follow us."</strong> She personified war and it scared me. My imagination took me beyond the discussion. I dropped my papers and just listened to her. The young woman sitting in front of me was my age. She had experienced multiple displacements and the war was following her. This was not just another research exercise, and this young woman talking to me was not just another story.</p><p>While carrying out Participatory Protection Research for Oxfam in Lebanon to explore <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/still-looking-safety-voices-refugees-syria-solutions-present-and-future" rel="nofollow">the perceptions and expectations of refugees from Syria</a> over the past, present and future, my own perceptions and expectations were altered. The stories refugees from Syria told left me completely shocked.</p><p><strong>Reality struck me hard</strong>, especially when people started describing their routes from Syria to Lebanon. I had heard about the "mountain." It is the word all refugees from Syria use to indicate they have come into the country through unofficial borders. But never had it occurred to me that the ‘mountain’ was a "death plateau." People talked about walking for hours and days, being left by smugglers in the middle of nowhere, walking in the snow or under the sweltering sun, and having to leave their belongings en route to carry children and elderly on their backs when they could no longer walk.</p><p><img alt="Bekaa Valley informal refugee settlement in winter. Credit: Sam Tarling/Oxfam, January 2016" title="Bekaa Valley informal refugee settlement in winter. Credit: Sam Tarling/Oxfam, January 2016" height="826" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/96374lpr-camp-bekaa-valley-snow-1240.jpg" /></p><p><strong>They went through the "mountain" looking for safety</strong> from the bombings, the shelling and the airstrikes. There are neither bombings nor shelling nor airstrikes where they are now… but they have still not found safety!</p><p>The rampant fear and the deteriorating living conditions are obstacles that prevent them from feeling safe. Their inability to meet their basic needs, obtain legal statuses and avoid arrests, deprive them from the sense of safety they are longing for.</p><p><strong>Though this came as no surprise to me</strong>, experiencing it along with the refugees who volunteered to participate in the research shifted my perspective. They explained to me the range of factors they had to worry about. If they leave home, they have to worry about the checkpoints. If they stay home they have to worry about raids. If they find a job they have to worry about inspectors along with different forms of exploitation. If they don’t find a job they have to worry about meeting their families’ basic needs.<br><br><strong>In their own words, their quest to find safety</strong> is costing them their dignity: ‘When you are displaced you start ignoring your dignity to find safety’. When an older Lebanese woman made the aforementioned statement, she summarized everything the refugees were trying to tell me in one sentence. The times may have changed, but the experience of displacement remains the same.<br><br>Despite the dire conditions and the lack of better prospects, Ahmad told me ‘We won’t lose hope’. Ahmad is a 22 year old Syrian refugee from Homs. He fled his hometown at the very beginning of the war. He had always dreamt of becoming a Computer Engineer. Although his dreams have not unfolded so far, he is striving to achieve the best given the current circumstances. He says: "Even if you are a refugee, you must have a message, a mission. I want to serve my country, my people. I hope I can spread a positive message."</p><p>People like Ahmad are what keeps me going, that much I know!</p><p><img alt="Ahmed&#039;s house in Syria." title="Ahmed&#039;s house in Syria." height="472" width="627" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/ahmad-house.jpg" /><br><br>As part of our research we invited participants to take photos. This photo was taken by Ahmad (of his former home), as it reminds him of his past. I sometimes tend to forget that Ahmad was not a refugee before 2013 and that he led a different life.</p><p>This photo is my constant reminder.<br><br><em>This entry posted by Nour Shawaf, Protection Research and Policy Advisor for Oxfam in Lebanon, on 21 June 2017. Originally published <a href="https://views-voices.oxfam.org.uk/humanitarian/refugees-idps/2017/06/listening-refugees-i-know-nothing/" rel="nofollow">here</a>.<br></em></p><p><em>Photos:</em></p><ul><li><em><em>A portrait of Jemaa Al Halayal and his two-year-old daughter, Lebanon. Credit: Sam Tarling/Oxfam, September 2015</em></em></li><li><em><em>Bekaa Valley informal refugee settlement in winter. Credit: Sam Tarling/Oxfam, January 2016</em></em></li></ul><h3>What you can do now<em><br></em></h3><p><strong>Download <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp-still-looking-for-safety-refugees-syria-200617-en.pdf" rel="nofollow">Still Looking for Safety: Voices of refugees from Syria on solutions for the present and future</a></strong><br><strong>Read more about <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-syria" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's Syria crisis response</a></strong><br><strong>Join the movement to <a href="https://actions.oxfam.org/international/stand-as-one/petition/" rel="nofollow">Stand As One with those fleeing conflict and violence</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Searching for safety: lessons from Syria&#039;s refugees</h2></div> Wed, 21 Jun 2017 10:54:31 +0000 Guest Blogger 81119 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-06-21-searching-safety-lessons-syrias-refugees#comments Behind the five million ‘Syrian refugee’ tags are individual stories of love, loss, and hope http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-04-03-behind-five-million-syrian-refugees-are-individual-stories-love-loss-hope <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>A smile lights up her honey-colored eyes. Delicate gold droplets dangle from her small ears. Her name—Warda—means rose in Arabic. She could have been a carefree 18-year-old law student in London, an aspiring actress in Paris, or a trendy blogger in NYC.</strong><br /><br />Instead, Warda is pregnant with her second child, lives in a tent in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley with her 23-year-old husband Hassan, and is dressed in black from head to toe, in mourning for her mother who was killed 10 days ago in Homs when a missile flattened the family home. Her earrings are her last personal belonging.<br /><br /><strong>Behind her smile is a storm of grief</strong>, questions and hopes that never let up. The young woman is one of five million Syrians who have fled their war-torn country and are registered as refugees in Syria’s neighboring countries—that’s a number equivalent of more than the twice the total population of Chicago or the entire state of South Carolina. Half of the pre-war population of 22 million has been uprooted. A quarter has crossed borders in search for safety. Warda was 13 when she left her home area in Homs governorate. She has not seen her father since.<br /><br />“Last time I saw my mother, she came to spend a month. But she left before my first child was born,” says Warda, scrolling through photos on her mobile phone. She shows me a picture of her mother Hanane, beaming as she stands next to her on her wedding day. Warda was dressed in white, her hair in an elaborate up-do, her eyes lined with kohl. “We got married here in the camp. There was dancing and singing. Life has to go on,” she says.<br /><br /><strong>But her life is anything but normal.</strong> Her son Jaafar is now 13 months old. Like so many Syrian children born in Lebanon, he has no official papers, and hence no nationality. Jaafar is neither Syrian nor Lebanese. Would his own country even allow him back in after the war?<br /><br />The lack of documentation for newborns resulting from the amount and cost of red tape is one of many challenges Syrian refugees face in neighboring countries such as Lebanon. They have little-to-no access to the job market, they contract debts to complement the little humanitarian aid they receive, they don’t have full access to education, and they live with the constant fear of deportation.<br /><br /><strong>Yet those who have turned towards rich third countries</strong> have either found closed doors when they attempted to travel, or have risked their lives on rickety boats to reach the shores of Europe. Five million refugees now live in limbo, waiting for an elusive peace to go back home or for an improbable plane ticket to Europe or North America. We at Oxfam, with other organizations, have called for the resettlement of the most vulnerable, or 10 percent of the total number of Syrian refugees. That’s half a million people spread across dozens of cities around the world. In Lebanon, one in five inhabitants is now a refugee.<br /><br />Not far from Warda’s tent, in another informal settlement built on privately-owned agricultural land, Abou Imad, 53, sips tea while waiting for the young men and women of his family to come back from a day in the fields. Bent in two under the baking sun, they would have harvested onions or planted potatoes for less than $10 per day. Next to him, his two youngest girls sit quietly. Though they had a spot in the local school—the Lebanese government having opened public schools to around half of the Syrian children—they stopped going because their father can’t afford the bus ride. “What will happen to this generation?” he asks. “That’s what worries me most. They are growing up to be illiterate. We, the older generation, have nothing left to lose. But them?”<br /><br /><strong>Abou Imad thought he had seen it all.</strong> A soldier in the Syrian army that fought in the Lebanon civil war (1975-1990), he went on to become a truck driver criss-crossing the Middle East and delivering goods to US-occupied Iraq in 2004. In 2010, he settled in his hometown of Raqqa, but little did he know that the terrorist group ISIS would drive him out of what became a few years later the heart of its self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria. <br /><br />“Look at this woman. Dressed like this, she would not have been able to stick her head out of the door. They would have killed her,” he says pointing to his new daughter-in-law, Ahlam, which means dreams in Arabic. A fresh-faced, raven-haired young Syrian woman wearing a red dress, she left Raqqa a few months ago. She took a perilous journey through Iraq and Jordan to reach Lebanon and marry Abou Imad’s son. Now a refugee, she has been embraced by her new family, and can live without the threat of extremism.<br /><br /><strong>But Abou Imad’s heart stayed in Syria</strong> and he wants to see his homeland even just one last time. “You see how big the ocean is? Even the smallest fish, after travelling far and wide, will come back to rest under that same rock it was born under.”</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iFaMqm8oBhw?rel=0" allowfullscreen="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p><em>The names in this story have been changed to protect the security of the individuals.</em><br /><br /><em>We are <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-syria">providing lifesaving aid </a>to displaced people in the Middle East, and we’re helping families meet some of their basic needs as they travel beyond the region to seek safety. </em><br /><br /><em>The entry posted by Joelle Bassoul (<a href="https://twitter.com/JoBassoul">@JoBassoul</a>), Oxfam Media advisor, Syria Response, on 3 April 2017.</em><br /><br /><em>Photo: Warda, with her child Jaafar and husband Hassan, lives in a tent in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley after leaving her home in Syria. Credit: Joelle Bassoul/Oxfam</em></p> </div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Behind the five million ‘Syrian refugee’ tags are individual stories of love, loss, and hope</h2></div> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 12:37:14 +0000 Guest Blogger 81002 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-04-03-behind-five-million-syrian-refugees-are-individual-stories-love-loss-hope#comments As winter settles in, refugees from Syria face increasing hardship http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-01-07-winter-settles-refugees-syria-face-increasing-hardship <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>As the <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-syria">Syria crisis</a> approaches its fifth year, our teams in Lebanon and Jordan shared this update on how refugees there are facing harsh winter conditions.</em></p> <p>Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria have seen <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/crisis-syria-lebanon/syrian-refugees-lebanon-another-winter-away-home">another winter</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Refugees/status/684763192732454912">descend on the Middle East</a>, for some this is their fifth away from home in increasingly difficult living conditions. Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, which hosts the majority of refugees in this small country, is already shrouded in white, while nights in Jordan’s camps are extremely cold with temperatures dropping to zero. Syrian and Palestinian refugees living in camps and improvised shelters are particularly vulnerable to these conditions.</p> <p>“It’s hard enough to be far from home and our family. I have been living in Za'atari with my husband and three children since 2013. Winter used to be my favorite time of the year until I got here. We can’t sleep most nights because water leaks in and makes everything wet. I am very worried for my children.  I think of going back to Syria every day,” said Asma Qasim, a refugee in Jordan’s sprawling camp which <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/crisis-syria/life-zaatari-refugee-camp-jordans-fourth-biggest-city">hosts about 80,000 people</a>.</p> <p><iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Vu6T1YVEhD4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><strong>It is not unusual for Za'atari,</strong> set in Jordan’s Northern desert area, to witness snowfall, strong winds and freezing rain. Oxfam is helping families to dig drainage channels around their households, to ensure they do not flood.</p> <p>Our teams are also going door to door, informing refugees of ways to keep safe and dry. In case of heavy rains, flooding or snow melt, <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/crisis-syria/syria-crisis-providing-water-every-household-zaatari-camp">our Za'atari team</a> has a contingency plan that includes installing additional emergency water tanks, and helping refugees whose homes are damaged to reach communal shelters. We have also mapped flood prone areas to guide our teams when they reach out to the most vulnerable in the camp.</p> <p>Outside the camp, we are helping about 1,000 vulnerable families (70% of them refugees, the others Jordanian) by providing relief items such as heaters, gas cylinders, warm blankets and cash to pay for gas refills.</p> <p><strong>In Lebanon</strong>, Oxfam is providing cash transfers through ATM cards to hundreds of Palestinian refugees from Syria. About 450 families will receive a total of $400 USD for the winter months in North Lebanon, which will enable them to buy much needed heating fuel, tools for improving their shelter, and other items, such as blankets, children’s clothing, and stoves. They could also spend this cash on rent, as they all pay to have a roof over their heads.</p> <p>In both countries, refugees have seen their resources dwindle as the conflict in Syria drags on. With little or no access to work opportunities, they are forced to rely on humanitarian aid to survive.</p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/appeal/syrian-refugee-appeal"><strong>Support Oxfam's Syria Crisis Appeal</strong></a></p> <p><em>This entry posted by Oxfam's teams in Jordan and Lebanon, on 7 January 2016.</em></p> <p><em>Photos: credit Oxfam, 6 January 2016.</em></p> <p><em>Top: A Syrian boy stands in front of his family’s flooded tent in a settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. As the first winter storm hit the country, thousands of refugees have little means to face the harsh weather. They need warm blankets, stoves, and fuel.</em></p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/syria-zaatari-glimpses-refugees-jordan">From Syria to Zaatari glimpses of refugees in Jordan</a></strong></p> <p><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-07-09-four-million-syrian-refugees-registered-across-border-when-will-end"><strong>Four million Syrian refugees registered across the border: When will this end?</strong></a></p> </div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>As winter settles in, refugees from Syria face increasing hardship</h2></div> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 14:58:19 +0000 Guest Blogger 34149 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-01-07-winter-settles-refugees-syria-face-increasing-hardship#comments World Refugee Day: No one ever thinks they will be called a refugee http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-06-17-world-refugee-day-no-one-ever-thinks-they-will-be-called-refugee <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>For refugees and internally displaced persons in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and elsewhere, every aspect of daily life is difficult. The crisis in Syria is also placing pressure on host communities. In the run up to World Refugee Day, Adeline Guerra, Oxfam Regional Campaigns and Communications Adviser, reflects on the challenges faced by refugees and calls for more funding to help both refugees and host communities.</em></p> <p>Children hide behind water tanks while clothes dry outside flimsy tents in the Mediterranean sunshine. We have arrived at a refugee settlement in the Lebanese Bekaa valley. Here, it’s the little things that matter. A 65-year-old Syrian woman who has welcomed us to her tent proudly brandishing an oil lamp. Inside a TV is placed in the corner of an otherwise empty “home.” There’s also a jerry-can of water and some corrugated iron for the makeshift toilets, shared by the 40 families living here.</p> <p><img alt="Young Syrian boys from an informal refugee settlement in Ghaza, in Lebanon&#039;s Bekaa valley, sit between the central water tanks that supply the camp. Credit: Maya Hautefeuille/Oxfam " title="Young Syrian boys from an informal refugee settlement in Ghaza, in Lebanon&#039;s Bekaa valley, sit between the central water tanks that supply the camp. Credit: Maya Hautefeuille/Oxfam " height="445" width="300" style="float: right;" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/88925lpr-children-water-tanks-bekaa-300.jpg" />In a thin fabric fortress, elders recall the day they left Syria. Not far behind the nearby mountains of the Bekaa, Syria is now left to the imagination or else seen through pictures of destruction held on precious mobile phones, people’s last connection to a lost land. Only what is recalled as the glorious past brings some sentiment of joy and sorrow to their faces.  </p> <p>It was a hot day in early June when my colleagues and I visited these communities where Oxfam has been working for the past few years. The refugees we met were struggling to cope with loss, grief and the daunting feeling of not belonging. Yet, despite facing immense challenges, most Syrian refugees are still living day by day, making it work because they have to, carrying on despite the relentless news of further death and annihilation in their home country.</p> <p>Those of us living far away from these areas do not see the scale and the impact of human suffering generated by the crisis. Our Oxfam colleagues working in Lebanon, inside Syria and in Jordan hear of such stories every day.</p> <p>For refugees and internally displaced persons in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, every aspect of daily life is difficult. They face the challenge of trying to find work,  and their children often miss out on education. The influx of new inhabitants also places a strain on local populations sharing limited resources. Living alongside each other is not easy in the current context. Oxfam and partners are working with communities towards fostering an increased sense of solidarity. while populations are facing serious strains on infrastructure, public services, such as water and sanitation, as well as access to health care and work.</p> <p><strong>The truth is that no one ever thinks they will be called a refugee.</strong> But behind each faceless number is a life. To date, 1.2 million Syrians are living in Lebanon. Almost 4 million have fled Syria, while 7.6 million are displaced inside the country. Countless lives are suspended in time awaiting a return to normality, whatever that might look like.</p> <p><img alt="A Syrian woman watches workers build Oxfam latrines in an informal refugee settlement in Lebanon’s Northern Bekaa where she lives with her family of 6. Photo: Oriol Andres Gallart/Oxfam" title="A Syrian woman watches workers build Oxfam latrines in an informal refugee settlement in Lebanon’s Northern Bekaa where she lives with her family of 6. Photo: Oriol Andres Gallart/Oxfam" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/91447lpr-bekaa-valley-latrines-1240x680.jpg" /></p> <p>In Ghazzeh, a small town 90 minutes East of Beirut where refugees out-number local residents, we visited a “cash for work” program funded by the Italian Cooperation, and run in collaboration with the local municipality. A dozen people, both Lebanese and Syrian refugees, work daily in the Gazzeh Solid Waste Management facility, sifting through up to 8 tons of waste. Despite the smell of waste, people are smiling at the thought of being busy, feeling part of a team, and most of all earning money to support their families.</p> <p>This week Oxfam and partners in Lebanon, Jordan, Italy, Quebec and Wales are holding a variety of events to mark World Refugee Day, bringing Jordanians, Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians under one roof in a fun, friendly atmosphere, which also marks the approach of Ramadan. With these events, we hope to continue reminding governments of their responsibility to do their fairshare for Syrians, who are experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II.</p> <p><strong>We are calling on governments to allocate more funds to the humanitarian response</strong>, to allow more cash for work activities such as those described in the Bekaa Valley, and to support long-term development in neighboring countries as well as large scale programs to help welcome and resettle vulnerable refugees.</p> <p><em>This entry posted by Adeline Guerra (@AdelineGuerra), Oxfam Regional Campaigns and Communications Adviser, on 17 June 2015.</em></p> <p><em>Photos:</em></p> <ul><li><em>A Syrian woman refugee in Zaatari camp, 2014. Credit: F. Muath/Oxfam</em></li> <li><em>Young Syrian boys from an informal refugee settlement in Ghaza, in Lebanon's Bekaa valley, sit between the central water tanks that supply the camp. Credit: Maya Hautefeuille/Oxfam, August 2014</em></li> <li><em>A Syrian woman watches workers build Oxfam latrines in an informal refugee settlement in Lebanon’s Northern Bekaa where she lives with her family of 6. Last winter, Oxfam installed more than 100 latrines in this area, to benefit more than 1,200 refugees. In addition, more than 160 water tanks were put in place. Credit: Oriol Andres Gallart/Oxfam, February 2015</em></li> </ul><h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-syria" rel="nofollow"><strong>Support Oxfam's Syria Crisis Response</strong></a></p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/what-does-it-feel-be-refugee-perceptions-syrian-refugees-jordan-and-beyond" rel="nofollow"><strong>What does it feel like to be a refugee? Perceptions from Syrian refugees in Jordan and beyond</strong></a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>World Refugee Day: No one ever thinks they will be called a refugee</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/15-06-20-personne-n%E2%80%99imagine-%C3%AAtre-un-jour-qualifi%C3%A9-de-r%C3%A9fugi%C3%A9" title="Personne n’imagine être un jour qualifié de réfugié" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> </ul> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 17:01:07 +0000 Guest Blogger 27156 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-06-17-world-refugee-day-no-one-ever-thinks-they-will-be-called-refugee#comments Syria: wealthy governments meeting in Kuwait hold the key to survival for millions http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-03-30-syria-wealthy-governments-meeting-kuwait-hold-key-survival-millions <div class="field field-name-body"><p>It is difficult not to feel overwhelmed in the face of the crisis that has engulfed Syria and spilt across its borders. With no end to the fighting in sight and spiraling humanitarian needs across the region, <a href="http://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/kuwait-un-officials-pin-high-hopes-syrias-donors-conf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">governments meeting in Kuwait this week</a> to discuss the humanitarian response are unlikely to be arriving full of optimism. But the funds they pledge will have a real impact on increasingly vulnerable people’s lives and donors need to come together to send a clear signal to the people of Syria: “<a href="https://www.withsyria.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">we will not abandon you</a>.”</p> <p><strong>We have already seen cuts to vital humanitarian assistance</strong> resulting from a significant funding shortfall - last year’s UN and Red Cross appeals to help those in need were <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2015-03-30/international-appeals-syria-crisis-less-10-funded" rel="nofollow">only 62.5% funded </a>by the end of 2014.</p> <p>The cuts have stung people like Abu Ali and Um Ali who fled Syria in 2012 and live with their children in a make-shift settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. "Without World Food Programme vouchers, we couldn’t have survived all this time,” Abu Ali told us, “but one day, we received an SMS telling us that we won't get food anymore. The same thing happened with fuel vouchers. In our settlement, only 3 families received one this winter, while we all did in 2013."</p> <p><img alt="Abu Ali and Um Ali fled Syria in 2012, now live with their children in a make-shift settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Credit: Yasmine Chawaf/Oxfam" title="Abu Ali and Um Ali fled Syria in 2012, now live with their children in a make-shift settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Credit: Yasmine Chawaf/Oxfam" height="593" width="854" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/91614-family-food-vouchers-abu-ali-family-lebanon-bekaa-valley-854.jpg" /></p> <p><strong>Eighteen million people are now in urgent need of assistance</strong> – a staggering number, including families across Syria, refugees forced to leave everything behind as well as the poorest people in Syria’s neighbouring countries who have been pushed further below the poverty line by the crisis. Eighteen million people who need the equivalent of a little over a dollar a day to keep going. To date, <strong>less than 10c of every dollar needed has been committed to 2015 humanitarian appeals</strong>, so there is a long way to go. This is the absolute minimum that the international community must ensure this year, while putting their backs into efforts to resolve the conflict and avoid a yawning future of further suffering.</p> <p><strong>Donors need to find a way to dig deeper than <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/reactions/despite-generous-pledges-kuwait-donor-conference-syria-falls-short-vast" rel="nofollow">last year</a></strong> as more and more people are lacking real basics like food, water and adequate shelter while infrastructure, healthcare and education services across the region are showing signs of extreme strain.</p> <p>The greatest burden of responding to the crisis has fallen on the countries neighbouring Syria – such as Lebanon, where refugees equating to nearly 30% of the country’s population are seeking sanctuary. Many much wealthier countries have failed to step up and provide sufficient help - this is clearly unfair.</p> <h3>Oxfam's Syria Crisis Fair Share Analysis</h3> <p>At Oxfam, we’ve tried to come up with a way of measuring what an<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/syria-crisis-fair-share-analysis-2015" rel="nofollow"> “equitable” share of the humanitarian response would look like</a> for the world’s wealthy donor states, based on the size of their economies. In 2014, nearly half of the top donors gave well below their “fair share” including including <strong>Russia </strong>(7%), <strong>Australia </strong>(28%) and <strong>Japan </strong>(29%). In contrast, <strong>Kuwait</strong>, the host of the donor conference, gave 1107% of their share. So far this year, the <strong>UK </strong>is the only government to have given their fair share for 2015.</p> <p>Several states have led the way in providing not only their fair share of aid last year, but also pledging significant numbers of places for <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp-syria-refugee-resettlement-geneva-en.pdf" rel="nofollow">resettlement or other forms of humanitarian admission </a>for the most vulnerable refugees from Syria whose needs cannot be met in the region. <strong>Germany, Norway, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland all committed to delivering their fair share</strong> of both aid and resettlement.</p> <p><img alt="Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, March 2015. Photo: Yasmine Chawaf/Oxfam" title="Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, March 2015. Photo: Yasmine Chawaf/Oxfam" height="686" width="1024" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/91615lpr-syrian-refugees-lebanon-mar2015-yasmine-chawaf-oxfam-1024.jpg" /></p> <p>The people that Oxfam works with across Jordan, Lebanon and in Syria do not want to rely on hand-outs. But with extremely limited opportunities to work, many have no other option.</p> <p><strong>In neighbouring countries, decreasing aid is also coupled with the impact of restrictive government policies</strong> that have been introduced under the pressure of the crisis, including the withdrawal of access to free healthcare in Jordan and expensive visa renewals in Lebanon that most families can ill-afford, with no option to quickly cross back into Syria to renew their visas given new restrictions at the border. Unless the international community can come together to turn things around, it is inevitable that more people are going to be left with increasingly ugly choices in a bid for survival such as early marriage, sending their children out to work in informal markets or making a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in search of safety.</p> <p>Fears are certainly growing. Emad, a refugee from Damascus now living in Jordan told my colleagues: “We Syrians are scared to work because if you’re caught they will send you back to Syria without letting you either call anyone or take anything with you. The first time, they will make you sign a document promising you won’t do it again, and the second time, you’re out.”</p> <p>Governments need to put their heads together with international organisations and come up with <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/mar/16/12-ways-to-ensure-more-secure-future-for-syria-refugees" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">new approaches</a> to ensure that their support is sustainable.</p> <p>Returning refugees to Syria is absolutely not an option as the unpredictable <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-03-25-syria-stain-conscience-world">conflict continues to rage</a>. Creativity is going to be needed to design livelihood options that allow both vulnerable host communities and refugees to find ways to better support themselves; we need to see greater involvement of development actors and funding for infrastructural improvements in host countries and support for education and health sectors.</p> <p><strong>A lifeline through resettlement</strong> will be essential for the most vulnerable refugees – Oxfam has called for the most vulnerable 5% registered in neighbouring countries to be resettled by the end of 2015 - but governments should also look at extending temporary work visa and education programmes to people fleeing Syria as well. The world is currently failing to curb the conflict in Syria; it must not abandon those whose lives have already been ripped apart as well.  </p> <p><em>This entry posted by Camilla Jelbart Mosse, Syria campaign manager, Oxfam, on 30 March 2015.</em></p> <p><em>Photos:</em></p> <p><em>Top: Emad and his family of 7 fled their comfortable Damascus home and fled to Jordan in September 2102. Credit: Khalid Said/Oxfam</em></p> <p><em>Middle: Abu Ali and Um Ali fled Syria in 2012, now live with their children in a make-shift settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Credit: Yasmine Chawaf/Oxfam</em></p> <p><em>Bottom: Samia*, 60, from Aleppo, fled the war in Syria with her husband. This was her second winter in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley. Credit: Yasmine Chawaf/Oxfam</em></p> <p><em>*Names have been changed.</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><strong>Support <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/syria-crisis" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's humanitarian response to the Syria crisis</a></strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.withsyria.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><strong>Call on World Leaders to stop the suffering in Syria</strong></a></p> <p><strong>Download <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/syria-crisis-fair-share-analysis-2015" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's Syria Crisis Fair Share Analysis 2015</a></strong></p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-03-25-syria-stain-conscience-world"><strong>Syria: a stain on the conscience of the world</strong></a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Syria: wealthy governments meeting in Kuwait hold the key to survival for millions</h2></div> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:40:13 +0000 Camilla Jelbart Mosse 26047 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-03-30-syria-wealthy-governments-meeting-kuwait-hold-key-survival-millions#comments Winter storm and increased border restrictions bring new challenges to conflict-weary Syrian refugees http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-01-09-winter-storm-and-increased-border-restrictions-bring-new-challenges-conflict-weary <div class="field field-name-body"><h3>Oxfam and our partners work to reach refugee families hit hard by torrents of rain and snow.</h3> <p>As the icy driving rain leaked into their flimsy tent and the blustering wind rocked their makeshift home in Chekka northern Lebanon, wide-eyed Raneem, 6, huddled against her mother, unable to sleep. A major storm is sweeping through the region bringing new misery to thousands of Syrian refugees like Raneem.</p> <p>According to <a href="http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/01/07/Snowstorm-Huda-and-flooding-hit-the-Middle-East-.html" rel="nofollow"><strong>media reports</strong></a>, the storm has already claimed the lives of 4 refugees. For young Raneem and others, they have little protection from the cold. Ayman a refugee from Syria told Oxfam, "Our children are all sick. The cold is unbearable, and we have no means to keep them warm."</p> <p>In Lebanon, coastal areas have been battered by waves and howling winds. Deep snow has blanketed settlements in which refugees live, blocking roads and isolating towns leaving people without access to urgent medical care. Under the weight of the heavy snowfall, tents have caved in, and water tanks have frozen.</p> <p>In Jordan, extreme weather conditions have also hit <a href="https://www.flickr.com/search/?w=8470194@N02&amp;q=zaatari" rel="nofollow"><strong>Zaatari refugee camp</strong></a>, the country’s largest with more than 80,000 inhabitants. Children, wearing plastic summer shoes, try to jump between icy puddles, as men shovel snow from above tents and caravans. "We are in desperate need of caravans, we cannot live in tents anymore," said Abu Ayman.</p> <p><img alt="Six-year-old Raneem huddles near a stove in her family&#039;s shelter in northern Lebanon. Credit: Oriol Andres/Oxfam" title="Six-year-old Raneem huddles near a stove in her family&#039;s shelter in northern Lebanon. Credit: Oriol Andres/Oxfam" height="813" width="1220" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/raneem-oxfam_oriol_012_web_1220nc.jpg" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/crisis-syria-lebanon/syrian-refugees-lebanon-another-winter-away-home" rel="nofollow"><strong>Weeks ago, Oxfam had started preparing for the winter season</strong></a> by distributing plastic sheets and cash vouchers in Lebanon, and digging trenches around tents in Zaatari to avoid them being flooded by the rain. Evacuation plans had been put in place too, in close coordination with other agencies. But as the storm endures, refugees are in desperate need of food, water and shelter.</p> <p>“Refugees who don’t have proper access to clean water or can’t store drinking water will be in severe difficulties if we don’t reach them in the next two days,” Laurian Gauny, Oxfam’s program manager in the valley, told Reuters on Wednesday.</p> <p>In both Lebanon and Jordan, <strong>Oxfam is ramping up our aid response</strong> to keep Syrian refugees warm through the cold weather. We are working with partners in Lebanon to ensure families can rebuild damaged tents with plastic sheets, and distributing hygiene kits that include soap, diapers and sanitary pads to ensure people can meet their basic needs. While in Jordan, our teams will be addressing the most pressing water and sanitation needs.</p> <p>The danger, however, will not lift when the snow stops falling. Informal settlements are likely to be severely flooded and in the Zataari refugee camp in Jordan we’re concerned that storm water may cause septic tanks to overflow, which could lead to big health risks.</p> <p>In Jordan, an Oxfam team is working to ensure that the trucking of water continues so people will have a safe supply for drinking.</p> <p>Oxfam and our partners will be working hard to reach people with support.</p> <p>For Raneem and others facing their fourth winter in exile, this help goes a long way. But with no end in sight of the bloody conflict, and governments increasingly closing their borders to vulnerable Syrian refugees, Raneem has no choice but to huddle against her mother and pray the storm ends.</p> <h3>The challenge of seeking safety</h3> <p><img alt="Sandals offer little protection to the feet of children in a refugee settlement in northern Lebanon. Credit: Oriol Andres/Oxfam" title="Sandals offer little protection to the feet of children in a refugee settlement in northern Lebanon. Credit: Oriol Andres/Oxfam" height="813" width="1220" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/sandals-oxfam_oriol_006_web_1220nc.jpg" /></p> <p>The <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/syria-crisis" rel="nofollow"><strong>conflict in Syria</strong></a> has dragged on for nearly four years, forcing about 3.3 million Syrians, more than half of whom are under the age of 18, to flee their country and seek safety in neighboring nations.</p> <p>But now, that safety has become more difficult to find as neighboring countries, struggling under the strain of the crisis, increasingly restrict their borders. In the end of December, Lebanon—where one in every four people is a Syrian refugee—announced  it was imposing new entry regulations for Syrians, requiring them to apply for one of six types of visas in order to come into the country. Extreme humanitarian cases will also be considered, though the criteria for those is unclear.</p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/reactions/oxfams-reaction-new-restrictions-entry-syrians-lebanon" rel="nofollow"><strong>The new restrictions on entry for Syrians into Lebanon</strong></a> are part of a worrying, wider trend reflecting quite simply fewer and fewer opportunities for Syrians to escape conflict. Neighboring countries, particularly Lebanon and Jordan, have welcomed huge numbers of Syrians fleeing conflict to date in an unprecedented crisis. These countries have a clear obligation to ensure that refugees can continue to seek safety, but they are facing enormous strain. The increased restrictions should also be seen as a collective failure of the international community as a whole, as neighboring countries continue to receive insufficient support from other governments.</p> <p><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/14-12-17-international-community-must-step-its-support-lebanon"><strong>The international community must step up its support for Lebanon.</strong></a></p> <p><em>Oxfam has helped more than 1.5 million people across Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan with lifesaving essentials. But the needs of families remain enormous.</em></p> <p><em>Photos:</em></p> <p><em>1. Strong winds blew the roof off the shelter that housed Yehia, a farmer from Syria, and his family. Credit: Oriol Andres/Oxfam</em></p> <p><em>2. Six-year-old Raneem huddles near a stove in her family's shelter in northern Lebanon. Credit: Oriol Andres/Oxfam</em></p> <p><em>3. Sandals offer little protection to the feet of children in a refugee settlement in northern Lebanon. Credit: Oriol Andres/Oxfam</em></p> <p><em>This update is from Joelle Bassoul <a href="http://twitter.com/jobassoul" rel="nofollow"><strong>@jobassoul</strong></a>, Oxfam Media Advisor, Syria Response, dated 9 January 2015. For updates, please follow <a href="http://twitter.com/Oxfam" rel="nofollow"><strong>@Oxfam</strong></a>.</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/syria-crisis" rel="nofollow"><strong>Donate now</strong></a></p> <p> </p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Winter storm and increased border restrictions bring new challenges to conflict-weary Syrian refugees</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/15-01-14-des-milliers-de-r%C3%A9fugi%C3%A9s-syriens-aux-prises-avec-les-intemp%C3%A9ries" title="Des milliers de réfugiés syriens aux prises avec les intempéries" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/15-01-13-la-batalla-diaria-de-los-refugiados-sirios-contra-el-fr%C3%ADo" title="La batalla diaria de los refugiados sirios contra el frío" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Fri, 09 Jan 2015 19:00:12 +0000 Camilla Jelbart Mosse 24739 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-01-09-winter-storm-and-increased-border-restrictions-bring-new-challenges-conflict-weary#comments International community must step up its support for Lebanon http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-12-17-international-community-must-step-its-support-lebanon <div class="field field-name-body"><p>Sitting last week with a group of Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley where they have fled the brutal conflict in neighbouring Syria, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to contemplate a viable road ahead with worsening conditions, donor funding for the humanitarian response in decline, few offers of resettlement for the most vulnerable refugees and, crucially, little hope emanating from stalled efforts to find a political solution to the conflict. <strong>This is a trend that can and must be reversed.</strong></p> <p>After several successive days of rain, a group of families showed me how their basic tents had been flooded, the bare red earth still a pool of mud. Refugees want to return home to a Syria that is not clouded by violence, but in the meantime they want to work to provide for their loved ones – and with so few jobs to go round, they have to rely on the ever-declining pool of humanitarian assistance provided by the UN and organizations like Oxfam. Less than two weeks until the end of the year, the UN appeal for 2014 is shockingly still only 46% funded .</p> <h3>Like an umbrella in a hurricane</h3> <p>“It breaks my heart, my beautiful children don’t even know how to use a pen and paper,” one mother told me. Of 60 children in the settlement of tents in which they live, only one little girl has been admitted to a school close by. Her name is Waed – meaning “promise.”</p> <p>My caring and eminently capable colleagues in the Bekaa valley began discussions with the group about setting up a makeshift <a href="#education" rel="nofollow"><strong>school</strong></a>, relying on one educated member of the community, while others set out to deliver plastic sheeting to settlements to help guard against the increasing winter rain and freezing winds and build latrines to improve sanitation in the settlements. But without <strong>a significant scale-up in international support and a serious attempt to drive warring parties to put down their weapons</strong> and into negotiations, there is a risk that humanitarian efforts could begin to feel like an umbrella in a hurricane.</p> <h3>A huge impact on public services and poverty</h3> <p>It is not only the refugees in Lebanon who are suffering – poor Lebanese communities are also at the sharp end as infrastructure and public services come under extreme strain. According to the UN, there are now <strong>61% more people living below the <a href="#poverty" rel="nofollow">poverty</a> line in Lebanon</strong> than there were before the crisis. A nation of only 4.4 million people, Lebanon hosts more refugees per capita than anywhere else in the world, and has seen a 27% increase in its population. <strong>This is the equivalent the Netherlands moving to the UK</strong>, Germany taking in Greece and Sweden, or France taking in Austria and Switzerland.</p> <p>This week, the UN and Government launch a new Lebanon Crisis Response Plan – part of a regional plan to support refugees and build the resilience of host communities across the region to cope with the crisis – calling for $2.14 billion to support critical humanitarian and development programs in Lebanon. The plan looks not just at meeting the immediate needs of vulnerable communities in terms of food, water and sanitation and shelter – in dire need as they are – but also building <strong>support for livelihood opportunities, social cohesion and public services</strong> over the longer term which will help to ensure that Lebanon’s stability is maintained.</p> <h3>Act now</h3> <p>As an international community,<strong> </strong>it is within our power to ensure that the future for refugees and vulnerable Lebanese communities isn’t hopeless. <strong>As citizens, we need to keep pushing our governments to step up to the plate</strong> – to provide funding, to offer resettlement to the most vulnerable refugees whose needs cannot be met in the region, and to redouble diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria.</p> <p>Supporting Lebanon now can make a critical difference both for the <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/crisis-syria-lebanon/refugees-syria-lebanon-another-winter-away-home" rel="nofollow"><strong>millions of people in need like Fadia and Abu Ali</strong></a>.</p> <p><em>Oxfam is a member of the <a href="http://lhif.org/4lebanon" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><strong>Lebanon Humanitarian INGO Forum</strong></a>, 26 international NGO members who are working throughout Lebanon to deliver assistance and support to refugees and vulnerable Lebanese communities.</em></p> <p><strong>Share the images below </strong>if you, like us, believe that it’s time for the international community to up its support<strong> <a href="http://twitter.com/#4Lebanon" rel="nofollow">#4Lebanon.</a></strong></p> <p><a href="/sites/default/files/education-lebanon-1024x512.png" rel="nofollow"><img alt="Infographic on the impact of the Syrian refugees&#039; crisis on education in Lebanon" height="512" width="1024" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/education-lebanon-1024x512.png" /></a></p> <p></p> <p><a href="/sites/default/files/poverty_infographic-01.png" rel="nofollow"><img alt="Infographics on the impact of the Syrian refugee&#039;s crisis on poverty in Lebanon" height="1601" width="1000" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/poverty_infographic-01.png" /></a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>International community must step up its support for Lebanon</h2></div> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:40:02 +0000 Camilla Jelbart Mosse 24354 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-12-17-international-community-must-step-its-support-lebanon#comments Refugiados sirios: sobreviviendo gracias a la bondad de extraños http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/node/10550 <div class="field field-name-body"><p>Eso era la bondad de extraños. Cuando Aziz huyó del conflicto de Siria hacia el Líbano, oyó algo acerca de un granjero que permitió a refugiados sirios acampar en su tierra. “¿Cuánto es el alquiler por estar en su tierra?” pregunto a Aziz. "Nada”, me dice, “el agricultor no cobra nada”.</p> <p>La tienda, hecha por el mismo Aziz con carteles de lona recuperados de viejas vallas publicitarias, está iluminada por una luz eléctrica. “¿Y cómo consigues la electricidad?” le pido. “Del agricultor, él deja que utilicemos su suministro eléctrico de forma gratuita”</p> <h3>"Haré lo que sea"</h3> <p><strong>Aziz no puede encontrar trabajo</strong>, excepto alguna cosa ocasional de un día en el pueblo vecino. “¿Qué tipo de trabajo haces?”. “Nada", me dice, haré lo que sea. Cavaré la tierra con las manos desnudas si esto me ayuda a cuidar de mis hijas.”</p> <p><strong>Aziz quiere volver desesperadamente</strong>: “si solo fuera por mí, habría tratado de quedarme y trabajar allí.” Pero por la seguridad de sus hijas, no puede. Y por eso se queda, dependiendo de la generosidad de un agricultor que no puede rechazar a alguien que llega en situación de necesidad.</p> <h3>Sin recursos ante el frío</h3> <p>Aziz es uno de los afortunados. En otro campamento, conocí a Hadoud. Desde su llegada al Líbano, huyendo de Siria, él ha vivido en un edificio que, originalmente, fue construido como un gallinero. <strong>Toda su familia –desde su hija de un año hasta su madre de 70- vive en una habitación</strong>. Tienen que pagar un alquiler de 100 dólares al mes a los propietarios, una cantidad que no pueden permitirse. Han utilizado todos sus ahorros y ahora me dicen que “compran la comida mediante deuda." Hace frío en el valle de Bekaa, pero esta familia no puede permitirse un calentador y sólo tienen mantas para abrigarse.</p> <p></p> <p>“Los niños van a la escuela”, le pregunto. “No”, me dice Hadoud, “Los sacamos. Los maestros los golpeaban y les hacían vaciar la papelera en lugar de dar clase. Los maestros nunca hicieron esto a los niños de este país. Solo a los niños sirios…”- en este punto, el cooperante que me traduce, que es del Líbano, hace una pausa. Sus ojos están húmedos; recupera la compostura, traga y continua- “Ellos escogían solo los niños sirios para salir de clase para vaciar la papelera. No podíamos mantenerlos en esa escuela”.</p> <h3>Un desafío para la comunidad internacional</h3> <p><strong>Hay más de un millón de refugiados sirios en el Líbano</strong>. La ayuda internacional carece crónicamente de fondos en toda la región. Hay una clara necesidad de hacer más para ayudar al Líbano a hacer frente a la situación. Los desafíos son desafíos para la comunidad internacional, en conjunto. Podríamos preguntarnos cómo alguien puede echar a los niños de Hadoud de las clases, pero es que somos todos nosotros, colectivamente, los que lo hemos hecho.</p> <p>“La madre de Hadoud quiere darte su café”, dice mi traductor, “pero yo le dije que no, que tienes que irte. Ellos no pueden permitirse acogerte como quisieran. No quiero avergonzarles”.</p> <p>Pero entonces, llega el café. “Lo han hecho igualmente. Insisten en darnos la bienvenida.” Nos sentamos y bebemos café y la conversación gira hacia “casa”. “Nosotros iremos a casa, inshallah,” dice Hadoud, “iremos a casa pronto. Y entonces debéis visitarnos allí, en Siria, en Siria.”</p> <h3>Una responsabilidad colectiva</h3> <p>Pero por ahora, ellos deben quedarse. Y cada día llegan más refugiados. Cómo gestionar estos movimientos de gente en una situación volátil es complejo, muy complejo. Y la comunidad internacional no puede esperar que los países vecinos de Siria lo afronten sin apoyo, deben gestionarlo juntos. Es la crisis humanitaria de nuestro tiempo, una responsabilidad colectiva, y requiere una respuesta colectiva.</p> <p>Pero, mientras la comunidad internacional analiza cómo incrementar la respuesta humanitaria, lo que parece menos complejo son los principios de la familia que no tiene nada y ofrece café, del granjero que arrienda su tierra de forma gratuita, del traductor que no puede obligarse a decir lo que se ha dicho.</p> <p>Es la bondad de los extraños.</p> <h3>Más información</h3> <p><strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/es/emergencies/crisis-en-siria" rel="nofollow">Haz un donativo para la respuesta de Oxfam para la Crisis de Siria</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Blog </strong><em>(solo en inglés)<strong>: <a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/13-12-03-syria-peace-talks-after-1000-days-glimmer-hope">Syria peace talks: After 1,000 days of conflict, a glimmer of hope?</a></strong></em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Refugiados sirios: sobreviviendo gracias a la bondad de extraños</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_en first last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-12-05-syrias-refugees-surviving-through-kindness-strangers" title="Syria&#039;s refugees: Surviving through the kindness of strangers" class="translation-link" xml:lang="en">English</a></li> </ul> Wed, 11 Dec 2013 15:55:22 +0000 Ben Phillips 10550 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/node/10550#comments Syria's refugees: Surviving through the kindness of strangers http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-12-05-syrias-refugees-surviving-through-kindness-strangers <div class="field field-name-body"><p>It was the kindness of strangers. When Aziz fled from the Syrian conflict to Lebanon, he heard about a farmer who allowed Syrian refugees to camp on his land. "How much is the rent to be on his land?", I ask Aziz. "It's nothing," he tells me, "the farmer charges nothing." The tent, made by Aziz himself from recovered tarpaulin posters from old billboard adverts, is lit by an electric light. "How do you get electricity?" "From the farmer. He let's us use his electricity supply for free."</p> <h3>"I will do anything"</h3> <p>Aziz cannot find work except for occasional daily labour in the nearby town. "What kind of work do you do?" "Anything. I will do anything. I will dig the earth with my bare hands if it will help me take care of my daughters." Aziz wants desperately to return - "if it was just me, I would have tried to stay and work there."</p> <p>But for the safety of his daughters he cannot. And so he stays, reliant on the generosity of a farmer who cannot turn away one who comes in need.</p> <h3>It's getting cold</h3> <p>Aziz is one of the lucky ones. In another settlement I meet Hadoud. Since his arrival in Lebanon from Syria he has lived in a building that was originally constructed as a chicken coop. His whole family - from his one year old daughter to his 70 year old mother - live in one room. They have to pay $100 a month rent to the owners, an amount they cannot afford. They have used up all their savings and now, they say, "we buy food with debt." It's getting cold in the Bekaa Valley, but they cannot afford a heater and have only blankets to keep them warm.</p> <p></p> <p>"Do the kids go to school?", I ask. "No," Hadoud tells me," we took them out. The teachers hit the kids and made them empty the trash instead of doing lessons. The teachers never made the kids from this country do that. Only the Syrian kids ..." - at this point the aid worker translating for me, who is Lebanese, pauses; his eyes are wet; he regains his composure; he swallows; he continues - "They selected only the Syrian kids to be sent out of lessons to take out the trash. We could not keep them in that school."</p> <h3>Humanitarian crisis of our time</h3> <p>There are over one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The international aid response is chronically underfunded across the region. There is a clear need to do more to help Lebanon cope. The challenges are challenges for the international community as a whole. We might wonder how anyone could reject Hadoud's kids from school lessons. But it is all of us, collectively, who have done so.</p> <p>"Hadoud's mother wants to give you coffee," says my translator colleague, "but I told them no, that you have to go. They cannot afford to host you. I do not want to embarrass them."</p> <p>But then coffee comes. "They have made it anyway. They insist on welcoming us."</p> <p>We sit and drink coffee and the conversation turns to "home". "We will go home, inshallah," says Hadoud, "we shall go home soon. And then you must visit us there, in Syria, in Syria."</p> <h3>Our collective responsibility</h3> <p>But for now they must remain. And more arrive each day. How to manage such large scale movements of people in a volatile situation is complex, very complex. And it is one that the international community cannot expect Syria's neighbours to handle unsupported, but must manage together. It is the humanitarian crisis of our time, a collective responsibility, and requires a collective response to match it.</p> <p>But as the international community looks at how to upscale its humanitarian response, what seems less complex is the guiding principle of the family with almost nothing who offer coffee, of the farmer who leases his land for free, of the translator who cannot bring himself to say what has been said.</p> <p>It is the kindness of strangers.</p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/syria-appeal" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><strong>Donate to Oxfam's humanitarian response to the Syria Crisis</strong></a></p> <p><strong>Blog: <a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/13-12-03-syria-peace-talks-after-1000-days-glimmer-hope">Syria peace talks: After 1,000 days of conflict, a glimmer of hope?</a></strong><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/13-12-03-syria-peace-talks-after-1000-days-glimmer-hope"></a></p> <p><strong>New survey:</strong> <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/survey-livelihoods-syrian-refugees-lebanon" rel="nofollow"><strong>Debt levels spiraling out of control as refugees from Syria slip further into poverty</strong></a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Syria&#039;s refugees: Surviving through the kindness of strangers</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/13-12-11-refugiados-sirios-sobreviviendo-gracias-la-bondad-de-extranos" title="Refugiados sirios: sobreviviendo gracias a la bondad de extraños" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Thu, 05 Dec 2013 07:00:27 +0000 Ben Phillips 10546 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-12-05-syrias-refugees-surviving-through-kindness-strangers#comments 100,000 deaths in Syria and counting - Time for peace http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-08-05-100000-deaths-syria-and-counting-time-peace <div class="field field-name-body"><p>The number of reported deaths in Syria continues to rise relentlessly. This time last year the figure was hovering around 20,000. That was bad enough – but no one could have imagined that <strong><a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/07/25/100000-dead-in-syrias-civil-war/2587521/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">within 12 months the total would have topped 100,000</a></strong>, with more, inevitably, to come.</p> <p>I have worked in the humanitarian world for almost a decade now – from Haiti to <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/somalia" rel="nofollow"><strong>Somalia</strong></a>, the Asian tsunami of 2004 to the <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/gaza" rel="nofollow"><strong>conflict in Gaza</strong></a> – yet the numbers behind the Syria crisis still never fail to shock me. Too many lives have been lost, too many futures shattered.</p> <p>The international community's failures to tackle the Syria crisis are having monumental ramifications on the lives of a generation across the Middle East. For the world to simply stand by while 100,000 people lose their lives -- and more than six million people lose their homes - is more than just negligence. It is unforgivable.</p> <p><strong>One hundred thousand lives lost</strong>. Proportional to population, this would be <strong>the equivalent of 1,570,000 Americans being killed.</strong></p> <h3>A wake up call</h3> <p>This statistic alone needs to be a wakeup call. Now is the time to put an end to this suffering. The long-overdue Geneva peace conference proposed by Moscow and Washington still offers a much-needed glimmer of hope on the horizon. However, the conference -- and its outcomes -- must not be allowed to become collateral damage in a wider diplomatic game.</p> <p>I recently returned from Lebanon and Jordan, where Oxfam is providing fresh water and sanitation facilities to thousands of Syrian refugees. I visited Zataari camp in Jordan, the single biggest refugee camp I have ever been to, with more than 100,000 people living there. In Lebanon, I visited Syrian families living on the outskirts of a cemetery.</p> <p>Day-to-day life in a camp in the middle of a desert is grim. Inside the tents or steel shipping containers (called caravans) which offer families shelter from the sun, temperatures can reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) during the day. It is simply unbearable.</p> <h3>A grim reality</h3> <p>This has what has become reality for families living in Zaatari. And it could be their reality for a long, long time to come. With no end in sight to the crisis and funding in such short supply for the humanitarian response in countries hosting Syrian refugees such as Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Jordan, it's hard to see how life is going to improve for these families in the near future.</p> <p>At last month's G8 meeting in Northern Ireland, leaders demonstrated that in spite of significant political differences among them, there is still a fundamental recognition that the conflict and bloodshed in Syria must end.</p> <p>This was underpinned by a <strong><a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2013/06/2013618151322522933.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">clear commitment by the international community </a></strong>to hold a peace conference in Geneva as a first step towards finding a lasting peaceful and political solution to the crisis. But as the summer unfolds, the process has ground to a halt. Fears are now mounting that the momentum for political solutions will be lost if urgent action is not taken.</p> <h3>How we can help</h3> <p>The international community must end its dithering. Discussions around Geneva have so far lacked the urgency that this crisis demands. US Secretary of State John Kerry <strong><a href="http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-07-02/world/40315210_1_kerry-and-lavrov-russia-peace-meeting" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">recently suggested </a></strong>that it will be at least September until such a peace conference can take place. Russia and the US need to overcome their differences, stop the talks about talks, and get down to the business of finding political solutions and making peace a reality.</p> <p>The people I spoke with in the region say they can't bear to wait much longer for a peaceful end to the conflict. As the sand blows into their eyes and their skin cracks and burns in the hot summer sun, they say they feel the world has forgotten them.</p> <p>While they want to go back home in safety, at the moment, that is but a distant dream. <strong>We can't wait any longer. Let's make it a reality.</strong></p> <p></p> <p><em>Help by <a href="http://www.change.org/petitions/don-t-let-syria-down" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><strong>supporting the petition for Syrian peace talks</strong></a> today.</em></p> <p><em>You can <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/syria-appeal" rel="nofollow"><strong>donate</strong></a> to Oxfam's humanitarian response to the Syria crisis.</em></p> <p><em>Originally posted on the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/louis-belanger/100000-deaths-in-syria-an_b_3672764.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><strong>Huffington Post</strong></a>.</em></p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><strong>Watch the video: <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/video/2013/meet-liqaa-23-and-syrian-refugee" rel="nofollow">Meet Liqaa', 23 and a Syrian refugee</a></strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/video/2013/meet-liqaa-23-and-syrian-refugee" rel="nofollow"></a></p> <p><strong>Read the report: <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/syria-overtaken-need" rel="nofollow">Syria: Overtaken By Need </a></strong>- The world’s failure to meet Syria’s escalating humanitarian crisis<em></em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>100,000 deaths in Syria and counting - Time for peace</h2></div> Mon, 05 Aug 2013 10:45:38 +0000 Louis Belanger 10427 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-08-05-100000-deaths-syria-and-counting-time-peace#comments