Lebanon is a small country half the size of Wales struggling to host well over a million Syrian refugees on top of more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees already living in the country – and despite high levels of poverty and unemployment among its own population.
With no official refugee camps for Syrians, most of the new arrivals are living in makeshift tented settlements, in cramped apartment blocks, or in abandoned or half-built buildings. The refugees are often living alongside poor Lebanese communities – the impact on these communities also needs to be considered. Our partner Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre is providing food, shelter, healthcare and medical supplies to thousands of refugees and host communities – but, with the war continuing in Syria, there is no end in sight to the crisis.
The Palestinian refugees have been in Lebanon since 1948.The 1948 Arab-Israeli war forced tens of thousands of Palestinians to flee to surrounding countries. Decades later those who fled to Lebanon are still living as refugees. Most people live in overcrowded, poor conditions, are unemployed, do not have proper rights and are unable to access public services. Palestinian refugees from Syria are also fleeing and now joining camps in Lebanon putting even further strain on Palestinian host communities.
CAFOD in Lebanon
We're supporting local organisations and partners in Lebanon to:
- provide emergency support to Syrian refugees as well as poor affected local communities
- train and educate Palestinian refugees so they can find work and are not reliant on aid
- build up co-operatives in which Syrian refugee and Lebanese women collaborate to increase production and improve their living standards
- help Syrian refugee and Lebanese young people develop life skills and play a part in building up their local community.
In late 2015 we collaborated with creative agency M&C Saatchi and photographer Dario Mitidieri to create ‘Lost Family Portraits’ - a series of photographs of refugee families in Lebanon reflecting on their ‘lost’ loved ones, symbolised by empty chairs, or unfilled arms.