From the frontlines – an update on the situation in Lebanon
For nearly two years Lebanon has been assailed by compounded crises – specifically, the economic and financial crises, followed by COVID-19, massive inflation, the inability to access goods (medication, baby formula, etc.), unemployment, the explosion at the Port of Beirut in August 2020, the gasoline crisis, and in the past few months the electricity crisis. The electricity grid is almost non-existent, and when fuel is available for generators, the cost is more than most people can afford. Because of this, many of us are forced to live with blackouts for up to eight hours a day.
The economic, political, and health crises in the past two years have had a crippling impact on communities, families, and individuals, and because of this we are now seeing an increase in the rate of violent robberies, predominantly impacting women, and others in precarious situations. While we as refugees have always been marginalized in Lebanon, the crises have made it even worse, with many losing their jobs because they were insecure, daily or seasonal. This has also led to a surge in depression, frustration, and violence, with increasing stories of domestic abuse within refugee camps.
As we always work to respond to the needs of our community, we are currently trying to purchase an Uninterruptable Power Supply to provide stable electricity to our offices and our project areas, including educational facilities for young children. It is important to create spaces in our community where people can feel safe and supported, especially in this time of extreme crises.
Everyone in Lebanon is suffering regardless of nationality, but we at the Palestinian Women’s Humanitarian Organization (PWHO) always focus on the rights and needs of refugees because we have always been vulnerable here, and have no rights, no voice, and no secure employment. We have been the voice of refugees in Lebanon for more than a decade, and we will continue to do so into the future.
Suha Yassir is a Palestinian refugee living in the Burj el-Burajneh camp in Beirut, Lebanon, and is manager of early childhood education and other programs for the Palestinian Women’s Humanitarian Organization.