Caring for Syrian Child Refugees in Lebanon

Syrian refugees in Lebanon

As the number of refugees fleeing Syria balloons above 200,000, humanitarian actors are working to ensure medical care and the right to schooling for refugee children.

Even as worsening security conditions in Lebanon are affecting refugees’ safety, the number of people fleeing Syria continues to climb. More than 200,000 people have left the country, fleeing to neighbours Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.

Now, settlements in Lebanon are a temporary home to 51,000 of the Syrian refugees. But, fighting in the northern city of Tripoli has entered its fifth day, killing at least seven people this week and injuring dozens of others.

The violence is reported to have begun months ago when a number of Shiite pilgrims were kidnapped in Syria in May. The latest outbreak is thought to have begun by children playing with BB guns. The game mutated, taking a more violent turn with an escalation into a firefight between adults from rival neighbourhoods.

The violence has forced the closure of one UN refugee registration centre. And, to the east in the Bekaa Valley, security concerns have likewise forced the UNHCR to look into mobile registration in order to avoid masses of people waiting to be registered in person.

“Tensions over domestic and security concerns remain high throughout the country and are easily exacerbated by developments in Syria," said UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, as quoted by CNN yesterday.

"The war in Syria forces women, children and men to cross the borders. In Lebanon, they receive medical treatment. Many of them also need psychosocial assistance as they are traumatised", says Ingo Radtke, Secretary General of Malteser International, which recently donated 500,000 Euros to a Lebanese Association medical centre near Tripoli, Reuters reports. Two hundred children—three-fifths of the patients— currently receive medical care at the centre in Khaldieh.

According to the UN statement released today, humanitarian relief actors are working to find new shelters for the increasing number of refugees finding shelter in schools, as schools are set to resume in the fast-approaching fall. The UNHCR has been working with the northern Halba Public School to find spots for refugee children to attend school.

In the past 24 hours alone, more than 5,000 refugees alone have crossed Syrian borders to what they hope to be safer conditions in other countries. The largest number of refugees in the exodus has fled to Turkey and the total number of refugees has already exceeding what the United Nations (UN) had predicted.

"So clearly we're going to have to revisit the planning," said UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesperson Adrian Edwards to Reuters today.

It is also estimated that another 1.2 million people are internally displaced within Syria. About 17,000 people, including children, are believed to have lost their lives in the ongoing conflict.

The Za'atri, camp in Jordan has now seen the birth of the first baby to be born in displacement.

“The camp in Jordan is in desert conditions. It is very tough on the refugees . . . The vast majority are women and children," said another spokesperson, Sybella Wilkes, to Reuters.