It is exactly three years since Alfred and I went with Sandra Cederholm to look at the conditions in the Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon for the first time. Not much has changed during the 22 trips we have had, if not to the the worse.
Although a few thousand have traveled back to Syria, there are still new arrivals. And with over 30,000 (!) newborns among the refugees alone in Bekaa Valley each year, it goes without saying that the situation is more unmanageable than ever.
Also during Christmas 2016, which was the start of Abri Aid, there was a storm with strong wind and sleet. This year too, barefoot kids were the first to meet us. The first camp we came to was the poorest we have seen, the poverty was so overwhelming.
Medical and fuel
On this trip we are facing 20 cases of medical help, from newborns with complications, to surgeries and medications. These have already been processed, so the task was to pay the hospitals. We have such a good collaboration that most now operate first, take payment afterwards. This was not the case at the beginning, then the order was reversed.
In addition, we have provided fuel to 101 families over the next few weeks, which includes around 600 people. The need for fuel, tents and other shelter for the winter is insatiable, which is why we have to make hard and difficult priorities.
To the north
The second day we are heading north to Baalbek, it was better conditions than expected. Many of the camps in slopes that make them drain better.
The next trip will be at the end of February, when winter is often at its peak. We were also asked to help in Arsal then, in an area that was previously considered too dangerous to travel to. IS had a foothold there, but the border town of Syria is again completely controlled by the Lebanese army.
As usual strong encounters and experiences on our trips, I must repeat that I saw conditions that are worse than ever. It is first and foremost the meeting with all the children that makes an impression, often born in the miserable tents, and without the future of our children. As it seems now, most people will live under such conditions for many, many years to come.
The same was confirmed when we visited the Ministry of Social Affairs offices at the UNHCR Zahle headquarters. It’s good to hear from them that we make a difference.