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As of 6 March, more than one million Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries. Every day, as many as 7,000 more refugees arrive in need of shelter, food, water, health care, and some way to earn an income.
Since September 2012, Swiss NGO Medair has provided relief to more than 10,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan and in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. “The Syrian crisis is not going to resolve swiftly, regardless of the outcome of the conflict,” said Emma Le Beau, Head of Medair’s Syrian Crisis Programme. “This is a complex regional humanitarian crisis with vast numbers of displaced people on the move. The needs of Syrian refugees far outweigh the aid that has currently been funded. This is a protracted crisis and refugee families and overburdened host countries are suffering as a result.”
Reaching the Hardest to Reach
Estimates suggest that, on top of the million known refugees, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees who are not officially registered and who are receiving little or no help from the humanitarian community.
“Medair is particularly focused on finding and assisting the most vulnerable refugees who have urgent unmet needs,” said Andrew Robinson, Medair Field Communications Officer. “This includes the families living in makeshift shelters in Lebanon, and the ‘invisible’ unregistered families in urban parts of Jordan, where we have partnered with local health clinics to identify unregistered refugees and provide them with relief.”
For newly arriving refugees, shelter is a top-priority need, so Medair’s main relief activity includes:
- Shelter kits to improve water resistance and insulation of makeshift shelters (Lebanon)
- Distribution of wood-burning stoves, blankets, and mattresses (Lebanon)
- Cash assistance to support refugee families at risk of being evicted (Jordan)
While malnutrition is not yet a major problem among refugees, key contributing factors indicate a high risk of the nutrition situation deteriorating. In preparation, Medair is training local health workers in six clinics in Jordan on how to assess and treat malnutrition and promote better feeding practices among caregivers.
In late February, Emma Le Beau travelled in the dead of night to the refugee transit centre close to the border crossing between Syria and Jordan. In just two hours, between 1 am and 3 am, she witnessed more than 700 people crossing into Jordan. “It was eye-opening, but it also confirmed everything we’ve been hearing on the ground,” said Le Beau. “Some families had clearly planned their exit and had suitcases full of whatever possessions they could carry. Others had fled without time to pack, and came with nothing but the clothes on their backs.”
As the crisis escalates, Medair’s emergency response continues. Read more about it here.
Medair’s Emma Le Beau has just returned from Jordan and Lebanon where she witnessed the refugee crisis firsthand.
To arrange an interview with Emma Le Beau, Andrew Robinson, or other Medair field staff who are working in Lebanon and Jordan, please contact: Janneke de Kruijf. Media Officer. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel. +41 (0)21 694 8472. Mobile +41 (0)78 6353095.
Medair can also provide high-quality photographs and personal stories from Syrian refugees in both Jordan and Lebanon.