Refugees of Beqaa Valley: Poverty and Aging in Al Jalil Camp
The Beqaa Valley is about a 2 hour drive from Beirut and is close to the Lebanese-Syrian Border. There is one recognised UN Palestinian refugee camp- Al Jalil, or Wavel Camp- and many other newer Syrian refugee camps.
Because the Beqaa Valley is so far from places of commerce, there are few jobs and opportunities and the influx of Syrian refugees has only added to competition within the labour market and for resources.
Whilst UNRWA, the UNHCR and other NGO agencies are working with refugees, the need is much greater and more complex than the support available. Funding has decreased over the years, even as the refugee population has increased and the Covid-19 Pandemic has only worsened this ong
oing humanitarian crisis. For the elderly, life is characterised by ill health, poverty and isolation.
UK Care for Children have been working in Al Jalil Camp for many years and we sponsor a number of children from the camp. We also work with other families and individuals, including the elderly who are often invisible when it comes to aid and support.
Ali is a 73 year old Palestinian refugee living in a small rented home in Al Jalil Camp. He has no family and has no qualifications that would help him get a good job. Lockdown left him even more isolated and unable to even find casual work. He has been struggling to pay rent and food costs and without any support system, is entirely reliant on charitable aid during this critical time.
In the same camp, Mohammed and his wife have only each other and Mohammed has been unable to work for many years due to his disability and need for crutches to move around. Both these elders were reliant on aid from certain organisations but since the pandemic, this aid has even reduced and they have been struggling to pay their rent, which is £32 per month for their small home. The house is not adequate or healthy but it is all they have been able to afford.
Linda and her daughter also struggle to meet their daily living costs. Linda is now 79 years old and her sole caretaker is her daughter who has been unable to find any work due to the pandemic. Even before the pandemic her daughter would struggle to find continous employment and provide the money needed for her mother’s medical treatment. Although the women receive support from UNRWA and UKC4C has also helped them, the increasing costs of food and worsening health conditions have made it difficult to pay rent and cover other necessities.
At eighty years old, Mohammed is unable to work and lives alone in a small rented room. The pandemic has left him more isolated than ever, and he underwent open heart surgery last year and is still unwell. Without the support of charitable organisations, Mohammed has no steady income to cover his most basic needs. Everyday seems like a struggle with poverty for him. Mohammed told us that his greatest wish is to return to Palestine.
Watching these elders struggle is heart breaking and with your support we can help make a real difference and ease some of their burdens. Each day should not be such an exhausting struggle for those that have already lived too long as refugees away from their homes.
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