Refugee crisis

Refugee children during winter in Kfarzabad, Lebanon. ©Medair/Megan Fraga

Nearly six years on from the start of the conflict in Syria, we are continuing to respond to the humanitarian crisis by supporting refugees and their host communities in Jordan and Lebanon through our partners Medair and the ACT Alliance.

January 2017 update

How we are responding

Since the conflict in Syria began more than six years ago, over 4.8m Syrians have fled from their country because of violence, conflict, and a complete collapse of Syria’s economy and infrastructure (UNHCR figures). For the last three years All We Can has been responding to the needs of refugees and their host communities in Jordan through experienced international and local humanitarian response partners. We have a particular focus on providing opportunities for refugees to not only survive, but to have access to resources and activities that help provide dignity, resilience and hope in extremely challenging circumstances. In 2016 we also began supporting projects in Lebanon in the Bekaa Valley, with a focus on providing the most vulnerable with shelter.

Stories from Jordan and Lebanon

Mohammad’s story

“I sold my wedding ring and earrings to pay for the birth of Mohammad,” says Alima, 24, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan. “Life here is expensive.”

Both of Alima’s children were born in Jordan. She and her husband, Nahid, fled from Syria three years ago.

“I tell my daughter about our town in Syria, with a house like a castle, and quiet roads where we lived,” says Alima. “It was a beautiful country, and now we are homeless.”

Nahid and Alima arrived in Jordan with no money. They were able to live with one of Nahid’s relatives for the first 18 months, but the conditions were poor. Now they are living in a cheap apartment but they struggle to afford their living expenses because they are unable to legally work in Jordan.

“We still haven’t paid the rent or the water or electricity bill,” said Alima.  “My husband has had to borrow money from a friend to buy things like milk and food.”

Even in the midst of such struggle, there are moments of happiness. The birth of Mohammad brought joy to the family. “When my son was born, I felt happy,” says Nahid, kissing his little boy.

But within a few weeks, Nahid and Alima knew something was wrong. “We noticed that his eyes did not follow movements,” says Alima. “We took him to a special doctor in Amman and he told us Mohammad had a congenital defect and needed cataract surgery for both eyes. The doctor told us if he didn’t get the surgery, there was a 90-percent chance he would go blind.”

Yet the cost of the surgery was prohibitively high for a family who could barely pay for rent.

At one time, Syrian refugees in Jordan received subsidised health care from the government, but that changed in November 2014. Today, Syrian refugees are often forced to take loans to pay for hospital fees. To support families in these difficult circumstances, All We Can’s humanitarian aid partner Medair provides ‘cash-for-health’ to cover the cost of childbirth and urgent surgeries.

“When I learned that we could get the surgery for Mohammad, I was very happy!” said Alima. “There is no way that we would be able to afford such a large amount by ourselves. I hope that Mohammad can complete his studies and grow up to become a policeman or a teacher.”

Image of Nahid and Mohammad: ©Medair/Bethany Williams

Fatuma’s story

“I met Fatuma, 84, when she was living in a rusty old van in North Bekaa, Lebanon. She had fled Syria with her children and grandchildren three years earlier.

Her family had rented a small garage with a room next to it, where her sons were living with their wives and children in very cramped quarters, but Fatuma couldn’t stay in the same crowded rooms with them.  “There’s a lot of children noise in there,” said her eldest son.

A neighbour gave them an old van which became Fatuma’s new home. The van was fixed to the ground with stones. In the corner was Fatuma’s bed—an old mattress and a well-worn blanket.

In May, a team drove nearly 100 km to North Bekaa to assess Fatuma’s situation. “Last night when she wanted to go to the toilet, she lost her way, and instead she ended up sitting on the street,” said her daughter-in-law. “My husband found her in the morning and took her back to the van.”

Eight days later, I joined the Medair team on a trip to provide Fatuma with relief. I met Fatuma sitting on the ground with her daughter-in-law, preparing food. “You won’t have to sleep in the rusty van anymore,” we told her. “Instead, you will have a clean tent with a bed and mattress.”

Fatuma responded with gratitude. “Sit in the shade next to me, it’s too sunny outside. May God give you health and happiness, may he provide you with all you ever wished for.”

The team got to work, providing a full shelter kit to Fatuma and making the area easier to navigate. We installed handrails in the ground from the door of the tent all the way to the toilet. The team also removed concrete blocks from the toilet entrance, which made access easier for Fatuma.

While the shelter was being assembled, Fatuma was very happy, thanking everyone the whole time, and giving her preference on where the door should be. “If God gives me the chance to sleep in the tent, I’ll be happy,” she said. “It will be better than the van, much better.”

By the next day, the shelter was ready for Fatuma to move in. “We never thought we would receive aid from anyone,” said Fatuma’s son. “Many people had said they were willing to help, but no one did. Even when you visited us the first time, we didn’t believe you would really do what you have done today!”

This story was told by Hiba Fares, Communications Officer for All We Can’s humanitarian aid partner Medair. All images associated with the story ©Medair/Hiba Fares

Doing all we can

Since we launched our Refugee Appeal in 2013 we have been able to provide more than £200,000 in funding to our partners in Jordan, thanks to the generosity of All We Can’s supporters.

Maurice Adams, Chief Executive, says: “Since the conflict in Syria began our TV screens have been filled with images of pain, suffering and death. We cannot begin to understand the injustices that Syrian people have endured in that time. I would like to thank our supporters and the thousands of people in Methodist congregations around Britain who have already donated to our Syria Appeal.

As the conflict heads into its seventh year, we pray for the multitude of civilians caught in the crossfire, the refugees fleeing to safety who have lost their homes and their loved ones, the people of the surrounding nations offering safety and shelter, and the thousands of staff and volunteers from Medair and our partners in the ACT Alliance who are working tirelessly in challenging situations.”