“The best charity is that which is practiced by a wealthy person. And start giving first to your dependents.” Sahih Bukhari
Syrian and Palestinian Refugee Camps
About 45 percent of the 470,000 refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon live in the country’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps. In addition to the original Palestinian refugee population, many Palestinian refugees from Syria have settled in the camps. Some Lebanese and foreign residents also live in some of the Palestinian camps, particularly Shatila. Residents of these camps deal with poor housing conditions, overcrowding, poverty and unemployment.
Syrian refugees live in informal tent settlements, abandoned buildings, or cramped spaces in the country’s decades-old Palestinian camps. This situation has put a strain on the country’s already unstable economy, infrastructure and social systems — and made addressing challenges even more complicated for non-governmental organizations on the ground.
Those Syrian refugees who are able to find work usually face pay discrimination based on their refugee status. Statistics indicate that 80 percent of Syrian refugees earn less than their host country peers. And, while Syrian refugee youths are legally entitled to attend Lebanon’s public schools, they face formidable barriers, from a different language of instruction to having to work to support their families.
Life for Refugees
Palestinian refugees and their descendants don’t have the same rights and resources as Lebanese natives due to their legal status since their arrival in 1948. Without formal citizenship, they have no social, political or economic liberties. All refugees, Palestinian and Syrian, in Lebanon also have limited job and educational opportunities and endure poor living conditions.
Refugees in Lebanon from Palestine live in 12 official camps, as well as many informal gatherings and communities alongside Lebanese citizens. When Palestinian refugees originally arrived in Lebanon, refugee camps built shelters as temporary housing. Those same buildings remain, housing ever growing numbers of people, while deteriorating over time due to restrictions on building in the camps. Refugees still live in these structures because their lack of citizenship and work permits prevents them from owning property or earning an income in many fields of work.
In recent years refugees are unable to have their basic needs met. Many cannot access regular staple foods, such as bread. Clean water is also a challenge, as well as heating and clothing in the colder seasons. Many Syrian refugees in the mountainous regions are often isolated due to the rough terrain and face bitterly cold weather; with many burning plastic and rubber in the tents to keep themselves warm. This leads to further risks such as burns and respiratory diseases due to inhalation of toxic fumes.