Thanks to the support of the European Union, we are able to provide economic, legal, and psychological support to thousands of people in need, in particular to refugees from Syria
Lebanon is one of the countries with the highest number of refugees in the world, mainly Syrians. Hit by an economic crisis that began in 2019, the country is seeing an increasing number of vulnerable people. With the support of the European Union, INTERSOS is working to help people living in marginalized conditions and those at risk of violence. Since July 2022, we have reached 6,957 people, including women and children, both Lebanese and refugees, in the areas of Mount Lebanon and Beirut.
To contrast the phenomenon of violence, we have held awareness sessions on issues such as child marriage, the education of boys and girls, and stress management. The sessions were held in public places in Beirut and downtown Bchamoun, Mt. Lebanon, to reach more people. In particular, on International Women’s Day, fabric bags containing messages against violence were made and distributed. To engage girls and children, on the other hand, games and magic shows were organised in collaboration with the staff of Flying Seagull, a company that aims at creating safer places for children who grow up in difficult environments.
The awareness sessions and the above-mentioned activities allowed women to get to know each other and feel part of a group where they could share their experiences. Therefore, thanks to the group psychosocial support sessions, many participants immediately showed improvements in psychological well-being. For Elly, one of the women who participated in the meetings, it was not easy to open up right away, but during the eight meetings, she was able to gain self-confidence and work on her needs: “The sessions helped me deal with loss and grief. After the sessions, I know that I have to focus on what I have now. I’m okay now, and this is a feeling I haven’t had in a long time,” she says to one of our counselors.
One of the ways to help the most vulnerable people is to support them financially. Many people who participated in the sessions received financial aid to meet basic needs, which would otherwise be hard to fulfill due to the lack of resources and the challenging living conditions. For Mary, another participant, economic aid has been crucial to ensuring her son’s health, which is compromised by the situation in which they live: “Many times my son was in the same diaper for hours and hours, with irritated skin because I could not afford to buy more. Now I have money to buy diapers, and he is much better,” she confesses. On the other hand, Fatima was in danger of losing her home due to economic problems and says: “Thanks to economic aid, I was able to pay my house rent and not be evicted.” With this aid, the assisted women have been able to meet their most urgent needs and reach the necessary stability to seek a decent work solution and not run the risk of exploitation.
In the areas where we operate, stateless people are also present. Mount Lebanon is identified as one of the areas where the largest stateless community resides because of its proximity to the capital. Their condition is not simple: they are individuals without either a homeland or citizenship, forced into invisibility. The complexity of the legal system in Lebanon creates a barrier for these people. Our professionals, a legal assistant, and a lawyer, in coordination with the team of protection experts, have ensured that many stateless people have received legal assistance and advice in obtaining civil documentation (birth, marriage, and death registrations) and legal representation. INTERSOS supports the community through a mobile unit and telephone assistance. Community volunteers are also present at the legal desk. In addition, the legal team has managed to get the local court to simplify the registration process for stateless people.
INTERSOS has been in Lebanon since 2006 and has been responding to the needs generated by the Syrian crisis and the socioeconomic situation in the country since 2013. We are present in all governorates of Lebanon, with four operational bases in Beirut, Tripoli, Zahle, and Tyre; this allows us to reach the most remote areas more easily. Our protection and legal aid professionals are dedicated to helping the most vulnerable people, such as those at risk of violence, people with disabilities, and stateless people.