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Syrian Women in the Hands of Fate
Posted on Mar 24, 2021 |
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The rounds of conflict in Lebanon have had an impact on local communities, particularly in the North, the Bekaa and South Lebanon, three of the most vulnerable regions across the country, some of which are still recovering from the effects of sectarian clashes in recent years. At the same time, Lebanon has the highest percentage of refugees in the world, with some 4.5 million Lebanese sharing an area the size of the island of Cyprus, with an estimated 865,531 Syrians[1]displaced due to the conflict in Syria, and nearly 470,000 Palestinian refugees[2]residing in Lebanon since 1948, in addition to Palestinian-Syrian refugees.
the Author
Psychotherapist
Syrian Women in the Hands of Fate
©عذراء قنديل

The rounds of conflict in Lebanon have had an impact on local communities, particularly in the North, the Bekaa and South Lebanon, three of the most vulnerable regions across the country, some of which are still recovering from the effects of sectarian clashes in recent years. At the same time, Lebanon has the highest percentage of refugees in the world, with some 4.5 million Lebanese sharing an area the size of the island of Cyprus, with an estimated 865,531 Syrians[1]displaced due to the conflict in Syria, and nearly 470,000 Palestinian refugees[2]residing in Lebanon since 1948, in addition to Palestinian-Syrian refugees. 

Due to the lack of official camps for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, it is believed that about half of the Palestinian refugees from Syria have settled in some of the estimated twelve Palestinian refugee camps run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Other refugees from Syria have settled in Lebanese neighbourhoods, many in the most vulnerable and deprived areas of the country, particularly Mount Lebanon. In this article, we tried to focus on Mount Lebanon region and the situation of Syrian refugees in it, and we were faced with the fact that the suffering of men and women refugees in Lebanon transcends the geographical dimension to be a common suffering that carries with it a lot of common psychological, social and economic pressures, because of a complex and difficult political reality. Therefore, the article shifted from focusing on Mount Lebanon region to an overview of the Syrian reality in Lebanon. 

The coronavirus pandemic was like the straw that broke the camel's back, tightening the stranglehold on Syrian community and especially women. "I lived three years in the shadow of the war in Syria, trying hard to be patient and protect my home and my children. Despite the bombing and financial hardship, I was determined to stay in Homs and send my children to school. Education, for me, was our only guarantee of survival.We were in a tight situation anddanger loomed over us, and Lebanon was the only refuge. We came, and we had nothing but hope in this country. Lebanon has always been a country of joy for us” Layla says in a psychological support session. And “Layla” continues and tells me that since her first arrival to Lebanon, she has seen nothing but good treatment from her neighbours. She loved this country. It is the place that has embraced her and given her the safety that she and her children have lost in her motherland. She adds: "But today, after the coronavirus outbreak, everything changed, I became afraid that my children would get out of the house. I fear for them and grieve for them at the same time. I fear for them of what might happen and grieve for them because of the prison in which they live in fear of the disease." 

Layla's suffering is fundamentally not naïve. She doesn't suffer because her children are locked up with her at home and she is fed up with them. The truth of what she is living is a bitter reality experienced by all the displaced Syrian community in Lebanon. It's what expresses the core of human suffering that anyone could go through. And because of the repeated lockdowns in the country, Syrians have to make a double effort to secure a living, and this often does not happen, and debts accumulate on them in shops next to their homes. According to a World Food Programme report, nearly 18% of Syrian refugees in Lebanon suffer from debt accumulation.[3]The average of this debt is equal to one million and eight hundred thousand Lebanese pounds per month. These high percentages include food, rent, medicine and water costs. If we look in depth at what this increase means, we need to be aware that this increase only leads to an increase in psychological pressure on the owners of these debts, and there is no other alternative for them, and at the same time, there is no other resource through which they can pay off their debts. 

In addition to the economic burdensimposedon the Syrian community in Lebanon, the fact that the whole family must stay at home as a result of quarantine has created a new type of pressure, which most women do not know how to deal with. One of the most important factors was the long-term unusual presence of men at home. This change in the way of life and routine of the Syrian family has become a frustration for the men and women in the family. This has often led to an increase in domestic violence, and thus the rate of persecution of women in these communities increased by 4% compared to 2019, according to the joint task force agencies to prevent gender-based violence in Lebanon. It was also found that the rate of gender-based violence increased among Syrian communities, specifically in Lebanon, and this rate included sexual harassment and violence against women and adolescent girls in the home. In particular, it was found that the incidence of psychological violence prevailed in all forms of gender-based violence against women. Research also showed that 15% of women were afraid to return to Syria, which resulted in high levels of stress and tension. 

Finally, with all the pressures experienced by women in Lebanon in general and in Mount Lebanon in particular, the burden of accessing education services for their children is the greatest burden and pressure. Since schools are closed to prevent any infection from being transmitted by children, most children now participate in online classes. And that usually requires, and in ideal cases, smart devices that the child can use, permanent electricity, a high-speed internet, and an adult who can follow up with the child. Considering the situation of Syrians in Lebanon, this has become a luxury that they cannot afford financially and psychologically. They have no money to get smart devices for their children, and if they do, there are no basic services to support this educational path, such as the internet and electricity. In addition to all of this, most families live in ahouse often consisting ofone-room. And in families with more than one child at school, it is impossible for them to participate together in different classes at the same time. 

 

 


[1]https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/syria/location/71 

[2]https://www.anera.org/where-we-work/lebanon/#:~:text=As%20of%202020%2C%20the%20Lebanese,refugees%20a%20place%20to%20live. 

[3]https://www.wfp.org/news/nine-out-ten-syrian-refugee-families-lebanon-are-now-living-extreme-poverty-un-study-says 

 

 

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Mar 2021
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