A better shelter for refugees from Syria in Palestinian Gatherings in Lebanon
UNDP helped 25 Palestinian families from Syria living in tented settlement move to rehabilitated and equipped rooms in a collective center in Sekke Gathering, an Adjacent Area to Ain El Helwe Palestinian Camp in Saida, South Lebanon.
“It’s been a long time since we last slept with a roof over our heads.” Khawla, a Palestinian refugee from Syria, tells short her family’s dire displacement journey when she remembers her husband’s words of relief during their first night in their new room in Bader Center in Sekke. First displaced from Sbeineh Palestinian refugee camp to relatively safer areas in Syria over a year ago, Khawla sought refuge in Jordan with her husband and two-year old daughter, to lastly arrive to the Sekke Palestinian Gathering, an adjacent area to Ain El Helwe Palestinian Camp in Saida, South Lebanon. In Sekke, Khawla shared a small tent with her aunt’s family of 10.
- To alleviate the suffering of these families, UNDP has undertaken an initiative to rehabilitate and equip rooms in a collective center in Sekke, owned by a Palestinian charity Bader Foundation, to be able to host 25 Palestinian families from Syria living in the tented settlement.
Khawla’s family, like more than 70 Palestinian refugee families who have escaped Syria to Lebanon were found to be living in tented structures built of disposed material in Sekke Gathering last year, with no protection from cold or sun and no connection to sanitation networks. Last summer, two children have died of dehydration in the tented settlement of Sekke. Their tents carried away by floods of rain water, children and their families did not do better during the cold winter.
To alleviate the suffering of these families, UNDP has undertaken an initiative to rehabilitate and equip rooms in a collective center in Sekke, owned by a Palestinian charity Bader Foundation, to be able to host 25 Palestinian families from Syria living in the tented settlement. Bridging the gap in basic urban services in Palestinian Gatherings in Lebanon and providing better shelter solutions for refugees from Syria in the Gatherings since 2012, UNDP’s project “Improving Living Condition in Palestinian Gatherings in Lebanon” carried out this initiative not only to provide better shelter to vulnerable families displaced from Syria, but also to eliminate the adverse environmental impact of the tented settlement on Sekke Gathering.
In partnership with the local NGO Popular Aid for Relief and Development and with the generous support of the Government of Germany and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), rehabilitation works started in November 2013 and included the provision of bathrooms and a collective kitchen, with necessary connections to the service networks in Sekke assured. On January 31, 2014, 25 families left their tented settlements behind to new rehabilitated and equipped rooms in the center.
“UN agencies in Lebanon are doing their utmost to mobilize efforts and resources to provide emergency relief for refugees from Syria and communities in Lebanon, where needs have outstripped and stretched beyond modest capacities,” says Shombi Sharp, UNDP Deputy Country Director in Lebanon. “Today, we provided a better shelter for Palestinian families from Syria in an attempt to alleviate their suffering and mitigate any possible tension in Palestinian Gatherings host communities, where no official authority provides shelter and basic urban services,” Sharp adds while he visits refugee families in their new rooms.
“Here it’s much better,” says Khawla as she looks around her family’s spacious well-ventilated room. “We slept for six months atop the tent’s uneven rough floor. In rainy nights when we used to drown in our tent from all sides, we used to cram ourselves and our belongings into a non-leaking corner of the tent,” she says recalling the “difficult time” of the tent. “I spent all my time cleaning and tidying, but the tent was never neat and dirt-free. We had no choice other than showering inside the tent using a large washbasin, almost half the size of our tent.”
“My room is clean and spacious; everything is in order. I cook here and I invite my aunt’s family over for breakfast,” says Khawla describing the change she felt since her family moved to the Bader center. “I feel home. In the evening, when we all gather around the TV, it feels like in Syria.”