Tuesday 12 February 2013
Syrian refugees are "weary and traumatized"The Mostor family, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, January 2013.
There are five members in the Mostor family: Mother Khaibra and Father Mostafa with seven-year-old son Ahmad, five-year-old son Turkue and baby daughter Khadija. They are Syrian refugees. They were forced from their home in Homs after their neighborhood sustained continuous shelling. They moved as soon as they felt safe and have joined their extended family, who had made the journey before them. They believe their house has now been destroyed.
They are not yet registered with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as they arrived just a short time ago. As a result, they are receiving no official help as they are not recorded as refugees. They live in a one-room makeshift tent that they built themselves. There are about 20 families now living on this flat piece of land.
They are high in the mountains of the Bekaa Valley. By four o'clock in the afternoon, the temperature is already below zero as a freezing fog descends. A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) meets the family while making needs assessments.
"We were invited to come into their 'home' as they told us their story," says SRT member, Fiona McElroy (UK). "On first glance, it looks tidy and ordered with blankets stacked in the corner that have been given to them by relatives and local people. There is a stove inside but it has only been lit once as there is no fuel.
"The local landlord fills three jerry cans of water as often as he can, which is for all the families to share. They have no regular food supply and no income. They cannot afford to rent anywhere.
"The floors and walls are wet as the water comes in when it rains and they sit in the dark as they have no light. It's already dark by four o'clock.
"As they have their photo taken, they continue with their story. Khaibra mentions Ghazi, her youngest son who was three months old. He is not in the picture. He died 10 days after they arrived here. 'He was just too cold,' Khaibra tells me.
"This family, like so many others, is weary and traumatized. I tell her I am sorry for her loss and she begins to cry."
The Mostor family is one out of thousands of others who have been uprooted from their homes by fear and violence and are now struggling to survive the coldest winter conditions in over two decades.
ShelterBox has a Response Team in Lebanon assessing the need and working hard to find suitable avenues to distribute winterized shelter and other lifesaving aid to Syrian refugee families in need.