‘I lived through the war in Syria,’ says Ahed, aged 10. ‘We were bombed every day, and every day something was destroyed. I saw the damage all around me. I saw buildings collapse near my house. Then our home was destroyed too.’
As we approach March this year, the conflict in Syria will reach another grim milestone – six years of brutal war. That’s longer than the Second World War.
Widespread destruction of civilian homes and workplaces has forced nearly five million Syrians to flee, mostly to neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
According to ACAPS, there are now 1.5 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon with 75% of refugees women and children (although because the registration has halted, the true numbers are difficult to know) – this means that Lebanon has the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide.
Living in the dirt
Six years of upheaval is a long time in anyone's life, but for Ahed, it is almost all he can remember. Ahed lives with his mum, dad and five brothers and sisters. Originally from Homs in Syria, they now live in a makeshift shelter in the Bekaa valley, home to more than 350,000 refugees.
‘We’ve been in Lebanon for five years but I am not happy here,’ says Ahed. ‘We live in the dirt and rubbish. But at least it’s peaceful. My parents are safe and I live with them. I look after my brothers and sisters.’
Syrian refugee families are in a desperate situation. But, in the midst of huge unrest and devastation, there is hope.
Tearfund partner Heart for Lebanon is organising Christians to distribute essential food and hygiene parcels to families displaced by the conflict.
‘I love everything in the food parcel, it’s all good to eat and gives us energy,’ says Ahed. ‘We thank God for it! I love the cheese and the tins of meat. My mother is a great cook and makes us delicious things with it.’
‘Thank you for supporting us with food parcels!’ adds Ahed’s mother, Yana. ‘Thanks to the food parcel, we have money left over to pay for medical treatment and fresh fruit for our children. So, thank you for all that you do to support us. Without the food parcels, we would struggle to pay for the things we need. And thank you that it’s something we can rely on every month.’
When everything else is in turmoil and with no end to the conflict or prospect of returning home in sight, Heart for Lebanon’s food parcels provide a regular source of hope to hundreds of families in the Bekaa valley.
Heart for Lebanon’s hope is that through this provision, Syrian refugees will become self-sufficient in Lebanon. When peace is restored, they want to encourage families to return home and help rebuild Syria, equipped with the strength they need to succeed and forge a better future.
The need is great and, with no immediate end to these conflicts in sight, it is growing. Pray for lasting peace to be restored in Syria and an end to the conflict.
Lift up all those affected by war – in the face of such unprecedented disaster, the need to strengthen and support families such as Ahed’s has never been more urgent.
Lift up Heart of Lebanon and all those helping to bring aid to people in need. Pray that they will be encouraged and strengthened in their endeavours.
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