UMCOR reaches Syrian refugees

Thouraya’s children were very happy about the gifts of new clothing she bought them. For Syrian refugees in Tripoli, Lebanon, income is sometimes scarce, but a partnership between UMCOR and ANERA made the purchase possible. PHOTO: ANERA
Thouraya’s children were very happy about the gifts of new clothing she bought them. For Syrian refugees in Tripoli, Lebanon, income is sometimes scarce, but a partnership between UMCOR and ANERA made the purchase possible. PHOTO: ANERA 
By Christie R. HouseMay 2020 | ATLANTA
For nine years, the people of Syria have known hardship and suffering brought on by a protracted civil war. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced earlier this year that the war has now produced 6.2 million internally displaced persons in Syria and 5.6 million registered refugees who fled to other countries to escape the violence and destruction. Among refugees, 41% are children and 21% are women. Lebanon hosts close to a million refugees from Syria today, and Jordan, about 650,000. The Syrian situation is one of the largest humanitarian and displacement crises in the world.

The UNHCR will co-lead a Regional Refugee Response Plan in 2020-2021 with the United Nations Development Program, coordinating the work of more than 270 partners. Meanwhile, the United Methodist Committee on Relief has coordinated work with four partners, three in Lebanon and one in Jordan, to support Syrian refugees, other refugees, and host communities. While these programs reach specific, targeted communities, the work makes a significant difference in the lives of families that have lost so much in the war.

As one example, Awad and Thouraya were forced to leave Syria with their four young children and found shelter in the Al Chouf Area in Tripoli, Lebanon. Even though Awad co-owned a plastering and house painting business back in Syria, he’s found few opportunities in Lebanon to continue this work, and he waits under bridges with other Syrian migrants, hoping to get a construction job for a day’s wage.

Awad owed three months in back rent for the family’s apartment. The refugees often end up making verbal deals with landlords on substandard housing, which then are not subject to the residential tenant laws. What this family received from American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), an UMCOR partner in the region, was a series of cash grants, equivalent to $174 each.

This assistance meant the family could pay the rent, but more importantly, it meant their four children could finally be enrolled in school. The inability to pay the bus fees and buy school supplies had kept them home, but now they attend school and meet children their ages in the Lebanese school system. In addition, Thouraya went shopping and bought her children new clothes, something she hadn’t been able to do in two years.

Meeting common but necessary family needs like these make a big difference in a family’s ability to provide for themselves, find security and integrate successfully into new communities. Two hundred fifty such families were served by ANERA with UMCOR support last year.

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