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In Lebanon, the “ever more dire poverty” of Syrian refugees

Along a main road in the Bekaa plain, early in the morning, Syrian men wait in small groups for any work for the day. “But there are fewer and fewer odd jobs. The daily wage is no longer worth anything. Before the crisis [la valeur de la livre libanaise a plongé sur le marché noir], we got by, we lived on. Since then, the prices have gone crazy. How are we going to make ends meet? “, worries Adnane Al-Hamoud, 28, from the Homs countryside in Syria and a refugee in Lebanon since 2013.

This father of three children, an occasional construction worker, lives in a Deir Zanoun camp: around forty small white cubes pressed together on agricultural land, facing the solid buildings of the locality. . Other small so-called “informal” camps – because Lebanon does not recognize the existence of official camps for Syrian refugees, even if these places are organized -, with tarpaulins held in place by tires, are installed a few hundred meters away. Children come to seek the sun on the edge of the rutted and muddy road. There is nothing to do in the tents and the narrow aisles. The days have grown longer since the crisis leads to waiting and increases anxiety.

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According to a study published by UN agencies, nearly 90% of Syrian refugees now live in extreme poverty – up from 55% a year earlier. A lightning acceleration, in a country in full economic and financial collapse. “The most vulnerable communities, including Syrian refugees”, are “At the edge of the abyss”, can we read. The Lebanese authorities say that nearly 1.5 million displaced Syrians live in the territory, a figure higher than the number of families registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Among the Lebanese, the rate of extreme poverty has fallen from 8% to 23%. The population has fewer and fewer resources, with galloping inflation.

“We start from afar”

“The crisis grips everyone: Lebanese, Syrians. But we start from afar: life under a tarpaulin, sporadic work, insufficient humanitarian aid from which not everyone benefits ”, says the camp official, a refugee in Lebanon for more than seven years, who prefers to remain anonymous. Food packages are brought in from time to time, but not in large enough numbers, deplore the refugees; oil, too, to heat the stoves, while the winter is freezing in the Bekaa valley. “People are not dying of hunger, but we are sinking into ever more dire poverty”, continues this former school director in Syria, who gives tutoring classes to children.

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