Lockdown in Lebanon: Families put to a Tough Test

Beirut, 02 February 2021

Since mid January, a hard lockdown has been in place in Lebanon. Throughout the country, people are no longer allowed to go out on the streets. To prepare people in particular need, our partner organisation Naba'a distributed food just a few days before. Our staff member Roy Joude lives in Lebanon and spoke to several families to find out how they are currently coping. 

The lockdown in Lebanon, which has been going on for a two weeks now, is bringing many people and families to the edge of despair.

I don’t know which one is worse: To die of starvation or of Corona.
Roushan
Saleh Family
The family fled Syria for Lebanon.

Roushan fled Syria and currently lives in the north of Lebanon with her two children. She suffers from depression because she does not know how to provide for her children without work. Refugees like her, who live outside the established camps, are mostly excluded from support. „I am afraid of Corona and I think that the Lebanese government will not give us the vaccine because we are refugees“, says Roushan.

The pandemic and the current lockdown accompany and exacerbate problems that have been created for months by an ongoing political and economic crisis. Steadily rising prices make products unaffordable and drive large parts of the population into poverty. With an interim government operating since August, no solution is in sight. The ongoing tensions gave rise to violent demonstrations last week - despite the curfew.

Families have less to eat

An empty pot
Especially when it comes to food, the family has to cut back in Lockdown.

Fatme lives together with eight relatives in a very limited space in Rashidieh Camp in the south of the country. Since the lockdown, the Palestinian family has had to cut back on food. „We don't have chicken or meat any more, it has become too expensive. Instead, I now cook legumes or plants that grow next to the house“, she says. When someone falls ill, she now cooks herbs, as there is no longer enough money for medicine. Although the family receives support every three months from UNWRA, the UN programme for Palestinian refugees, and their son Salem contributes to the household, there is never enough money to provide for the family adequately.

Behavioural changes in children

Children in particular are a major source of concern for many parents. Online lessons mostly take place via messenger services only - if the internet works or teachers are available at all. There is an increasing amount of tension among them because there is not enough food in the house, friendships between children are no longer maintained or boredom prevails. „My child's behaviour is changing“, says a mother from Bekaa.

 

He's more aggresive, complaining about the situation. Boredom is replaced by anxiety and excessive nervousness. In addition, sleeping and eating patterns have changed.
A mother from Bekaa
A boy makes his homework at the table in a living room
Home-schooling presents challenges not only for the children, but also for the parents.

Condolences only by telephone

The situation is also becoming increasingly challenging for Lebanese. „and the situation will be disastrous in case they will extend the lockdown for more weeks“, say Nadine Dagher from the capital Beirut. Although closed markets, bakers or grocery shops often have a delivery service, the prices are enormously high. „Living in this country is not pleasant anymore“, she says. As with the refugee families, communication takes place almost exclusively via messenger services or social media.

We cannot stand beside our relatives who lost someone from their families: Condolences are only through phone or WhatsApp or social media.
Nadine Dagher
Our partner Naba'a distributed food to those most in need before the lockdown.

What unites Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese is the hope that after the lockdown their children will be able to attend school again and that they will be able to take up work themselves. Being able to afford food and cleaning supplies, or to breathe fresh air in the mountains for once, seems to remain denied to them in the coming weeks due to the high Corona case numbers.

What we do against Corona worldwide

We are adapting our current project activities to respond to the worldwide corona pandemic.

 A boy plays with another boy who is in a wheelchair

International Assistance in Lebanon

In Lebanon, we support refugees from Palestine and Syria. We are committed to improve career prospects among young people with and without disabilities.

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