Palestinian Refugees from Syria Struggling for Survival in Lebanon Displacement Camp

Palestinian Refugees from Syria Struggling for Survival in Lebanon Displacement Camp

Ghusoun (left) cuddles one of her daughters in the living room of her rented premises in Beddawi Palestine Refugee camp in Lebanon. © 2022 UNRWA Photo by Maysoun Mustafa

Ghusoun Tahan has paid a heavy price during the conflict in Syria. Overnight, her world collapsed, and she lost everything – her husband, her home, and her community. 

“My husband was hit by shrapnel during the siege of al-Husseina and succumbed to his wounds,” Ghusoun told the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Ghusoun is a Palestine refugee from Syria who now lives in Beddawi Palestine Refugee camp in Lebanon with her five orphaned children.  Since the death of her husband five years ago, she has been left to care for her children by herself.  In Beddawi camp, her three youngest children attend an UNRWA school, while her two eldest were forced to leave school in Syria without continuing.  

To support her family, Ghusoun cleans houses. She also bears responsibility for the family’s emotional support: “We benefit from UNRWA’s monthly assistance, but it is not enough these days because of the collapsing Lebanese economy. I pay US$50 every month in rent for an apartment that is uninhabitable.”

To make ends meet and support her children, Ghusoun started working for an additional US$ 40/month.

"All of my children suffer from asthma and need special care when it gets cold. Last week, my daughter suffered a kidney attack in the evening, so I had to take her to a private clinic. The medical fees and medicine cost me more than US$ 30. I had to borrow money from my landlord to cover the cost. This is so exhausting.”

Ghusoun and her children are among the 31,400 Palestine Refugees in Lebanon who fled the war in Syria (PRS) in search of safety. Nearly all of them live in poverty, relying on UNRWA cash assistance as their main source of income.  

The economic and financial crises, impact of COVID-19 and the Beirut Port explosion in August 2020 have driven Lebanon into a dire economic crisis which continues to deepen to this day. This has translated into soaring prices for basic necessities – notably electricity, medications and food. Overall, most of Lebanon’s population, including Palestine Refugees, is no longer able to meet its basic needs. 

To mitigate their tremendous suffering, UNRWA targets both Palestine Refugees in Lebanon and Palestine Refugees from Syria in Lebanon with multi-purpose cash assistance. 

Within the current socio-economic environment in Lebanon, Palestine refugees report feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and fear: “It is immensely stressful to be alone and to take care of your children without a husband or help from your parents or brothers. The war has separated us. But I am determined to face these enormous challenges for my children. I am determined to support them and always see big smiles on their faces,” added Ghusoun.

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