LEBANON/ Ghaussaoun, Omar and Ryad: faces of hope from Syrian refugee camps
AVSI has launched #10forSyria, a fund raising campaign, from June 17th to August 31st.
“Mom Ghaussaoun and Dad Omar are pleased to announce the birth of their son Riyad, born in a hospital of the Bekaa Valley on June 25th at 4:09 in the morning. It’s a boy and weights 3 kg and 850 gr”. Behind this announcement given by AVSI volunteers, there is all the drama and the hope of Syrians crowding refugee camps in Lebanon. Unfortunately, these days the dramatic situation due to water shortages in the refugee hosting areas prevails.
Ghaussaoun and Omar are a young Syrian family from Idlib, who fled their country after the collapse of their house following the explosion of a car bomb. Now they live in tent at the foot of the Golan Heights. When they realized they were expecting a baby, they decided to flee from Syria and join their cousins already living in Lebanon for a few months.
As they don’t hold refugee status, they cannot benefit from cost reduction for primary care and delivery assistance but AVSI, in collaboration with the St. Camille Foundation, supported them by paying for the hospitalization of the mother. As many other refugees, Ghaussaoum and Omar have always been scared of explicitly asking for help to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), but today Ghaussaun says “Thanks to AVSI social workers, who visit us twice a week and support us, I am starting to think that asking for help might be good. My husband works only three days a week as a farmer and we have no more savings”.
The story of Ghaussaoun and Omar is just one of many from the tents of the refugee camps. Marco Perini, AVSI country representative in Lebanon, knows lots of these stories and when he is asked about the most pressing needs he answers “Water and food immediately, and then organizing recreational activities for children as well as planning their return to school and the arrival of winter….Today there are 38 degrees and the heat is going to increase in the coming weeks…. Water, we need lots of water! Statistics show that at least ten liters of water per person per day are needed but refugees often do not even have a liter of drinking water a day”
In the Marjayoun camp alone, there are only 2 tanks to hold about 1000 liters of water. In order to provide for the 1000 residents in the tent city, an estimated 11 tanks, each of 10,000 liters are needed according to AVSI Program Manager Chiara Nava. Otherwise, besides the obvious problem of dehydration, there is also a great risk of spreading cholera or other water-born diseases.
The Syrian crisis doesn’t seem to reduce its devastating impact, deaths are increasing as well as the number of refugees. Official data are extremely scary: millions of people have fled their homes and at any moment the crisis could hit Lebanon and Jordan too. According to Marco Perini “In this framework, AVSI has been working for several months in order to bring some relief to the displaced population on the run. What is happening here seems to concern a few people, but we need help because the situation is getting worse day by day and the first ones to be affected are of course the most vulnerable such as children”.
The figures of what AVSI has done till now in Lebanon and Jordan are about 17,500 people supported through the provision of core relief items, 1,063 people provided with food and medical supplies, 600 students accompanied in their difficult school path through remedial classes; 1,250 children and youth helped through psychosocial support and lots of personalized activities to meet their specific needs.