After a sudden evacuation before Christmas, our Lebanese partner organisation have been able to settle 25 Syrian refugee families in a brand new camp in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.
Just before Christmas we reported that one of the camps where we are supporting Syrian refugee children had been evacuated by the military with no notice or direction of where to go. They simply had arrived one morning, fully armed and announced that the camp had to be cleared in a week due to a military base expansion.
The military base is being expanded from a nearby checkpoint, and for security reasons the army do not want any camps in the sightline of the base. This not only affects one of the camps we are working with, but up to 50 camps, displacing thousands of Syrian people within Lebanon.
This evacuation has been a devastating blow for people we are working with. The school we support in this camp has had to move, the families have had to move, and for a month or so there was no place for them to go.
To ensure safety and stability for these families, our local partner has rented the land for a new camp themselves rather than leaving families to rent from landowners direct. Many landowners abuse the desperation of refugees needing land, using sexual exploitation, unpaid labour and child labour as payment when people have no other means to pay. Managing the land and the camp in an ethical way therefore, brings security and peace of mind for the refugees.
25 families have been settled in the new camp, with space for 27 more. The process is gradual as our partners want to ensure that space is reserved for the most vulnerable refugees. There is adequate space throughout the settlement (something not often adhered to in the building of camps) and the camp has a good water supply and sanitation.
A new school has been built in the camp (see photo below). It has been designed by a German architect who works with a local team and who has been in Lebanon for 18 months. The design allows for adequate ventilation and light within the tented school, which are elements that are often lacking in other tent schools. The base is concrete and the structure made out of wood.
There are plans for a vegetable garden, so that the camp residents who have valuable agricultural knowledge and experience from their lives back in Syria can teach their children to grow food from the fertile Bekaa Valley soil. This will enable them to pass on skills to the next generation that could otherwise be lost due to the conflict.
It is hoped that with dedicated planning and building at this early stage, the camp can become a model for other refugee settlements in the valley.
Find out more about about the work we support in Lebanon
Donate to the new camp and existing schools.