Syrian refugees in Lebanon: people behind the numbers

Shaha Ibrahim and one of her daughters (Photo: Val Morgan)

Shaha Ibrahim and one of her daughters (Photo: Val Morgan)

Val Morgan from the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) blogs on the Caritas Syrian refugee emergency response from Lebanon and Jordan

How can so much pain and suffering be inflicted upon a people and no notice taken by those that are inflicting it. Tell me the ideology or political view that outweighs the right to life?

Around 9.3 million of Syria’s 23 million inhabitants need aid. The number of people who have lost their homes or been forced to flee has now reached 6.5 million in Syria and over 2 million in neighbouring countries.

But behind every single number there is a fellow human being who cherishes life, loves his or her family and simply wants to live in peace.

Shaha and Abboud Ibrahim have two lovely girls and fled from Hasaki in Syria. When an eighteen day battle raged around them they were trapped. When they and their children emerged into daylight so they could escape buildings continued to burn around them and dead bodies littered the streets.

Abboud told me, “A lot of our neighbours were killed or injured by shrapnel, we saw their bodies – we thought we would be next – the children were starving. We fled into the wild. It took us a month to walk to Lebanon.”

When all this occurred Shaha was 3 months pregnant. Thankfully her lovely child, Byane who is now two months old, was born safely and is part of a loving family.It seems that everyone that has lost someone, and their current life is difficult.

Ahmad had five brothers – now two are dead – the others remain in Syria. He lives with his wife and children, and the families of his five sisters-in-law. Now their situation just about bearable as they stay in a hand-built shack made of plastic sheeting and some breeze-blocks.

The children are often ill and haven’t been to school since they fled. They are poor and struggle to survive. However, up until recently they had all been living in a cow shed three metres by five metre with a sewerage pipe with human waste flowing from it.

I saw it with my own eyes and couldn’t imagine being in such a bad situation that moving into that foul cowshed was a step in the right direction.

Throughout these meetings I was accompanied by the good staff of Caritas Lebanon who walk alongside those who are hurting, as well as provide them with practical aid such as food, hygiene kits, blankets, mattresses, fuel, stoves and medical care.

For all the horror that people are capable of, I keep in mind that there are always more good people in the world. When I meet the people and witness situations like this, I sometimes wonder.

Caritas Internationalis

President: Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle
Secretary General: Michel Roy

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