By Kyriacos Kyriacou-Nicosia
The conflict in Syria rages on. Well into its fourth year, neither the fighting nor the flow of families seeking safety and refuge in nearby countries show any signs of slowing. To date, more than 2.7 million Syrians have registered as refugees in neighbouring countries and millions more are displaced within Syria.
World Vision has been supporting Syrian refugees in Lebanon for more than two years by providing: psychosocial support for children, access to education, hygiene kits, blankets, stoves and food vouchers, among other things. Nearly 100,000 people have been helped in Lebanon alone, and nearly 340,000 across the wider region.
228 boxes from Cyprus
Recently, together with many generous individuals, businesses, organisations and institutions as well as the help of more than 40 local volunteers, World Vision Cyprus, based in Nicosia, was able to send a shipping container, with 228 boxes and suitcases filled with blankets, clothes, shoes and toys to ease the burdens of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, if only temporarily.
The cash and items generously donated by individuals, schools, universities, businesses and churches were able to bring at least temporary relief to more than 1,250 Syrian refugees, reminding them that they are not alone.
“Most refugee families come with very few possessions,” said Conny Lenneberg, Regional Leader for World Vision’s operations in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. “Many come with just the clothes they are wearing,” she adds, recalling one family she met in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where World Vision has been responding to the Syria crisis for more than two years.
“Last winter, just as the snow was starting to fall in Lebanon, I met Halima,” remembers Lenneberg. “She is a 34-year-old widow with nine children, the eldest of whom is 12. Her husband, who worked as a schoolteacher, was killed by a stray bullet in Alleppo as he walked to collect his pay check.”
“As a refugee in Lebanon, Halima and her family live in very precarious conditions. Neither their shelter, nor their thin clothes, was going to protect her nor her children from the frigid winter temperatures,” remembers Lenneberg, recalling the appalling conditions Syrian refugees find themselves in in both Lebanon and Jordan.
As there are no official refugee camps in Lebanon, many families are living in temporary, often precarious conditions – donated tents or shelters they have cobbled together using recycled materials. Others spend every penny they have or are able to earn to pay rent in cramped quarters, often in deplorable conditions. Many live in abandoned or unfinished buildings, basements and garages. To help Syrian refugee children visit: http://www.wvi.org/europe/contact-us