Palestinian Refugees Struggle to Survive in Lebanon Crisis

The severe crisis that occurred in Lebanon also affected the 250,000 Palestinian refugees who have been living there for a long time. Now, they are struggling to survive in a crisis that makes all commodity prices soar.

Palestinian refugees
Palestinian refugees live in Shatila Camp, Beirut, Lebanon. (MEE/Ahmad Laila)

ACTNews, BEIRUT – The crisis in Lebanon is getting worse from time to time. The World Bank has described Lebanon as experiencing one of the world’s worst economic crises since the mid-19th century. The value of the local currency has collapsed, and inflation has reached an all-time high. The value of the local currency, the Lebanese Pound (PLB), has plummeted in recent years, and inflation has reached an all-time high.

This crisis has not only affected the Lebanese but also the refugees there. It is estimated that more than 250,000 Palestinians are living in Lebanon as long-term refugees. They are among the people worst affected by the crisis in the country on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea.

The story of the struggle of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon came from one of the refugee camps in southern Beirut, Shatila. Established in 1949 in the south of Beirut, the Shatila camp is home to approximately 22,000 Palestinian refugees. Residents were already living in dire conditions before this latest crisis.

 

“If I am to describe the conditions in the camp in one word, I would say ‘misery’. Everyone is miserable. I feel sorry for young Palestinians, as they have not been given the opportunities to succeed and develop in this country," said Aida, one of the Palestinian refugees who live in Shatila Camp.

In addition to the economic crisis, Lebanon has faced months of severe fuel shortages that have plunged the country into darkness. This is because Lebanon's central bank removed its fuel subsidies last month and left many refugees without access to electricity because they did not have the money to buy fuel to run generators.

“I used to pay 75,000 LBP [$50 before the Lebanese pound lost about 90 percent of its value] a month for the private generator; now it costs one and a quarter million LBP [approximately $830],” said Abbas, who owns a small home appliances shop that used to pay for the basic needs of his five children, before the economic crisis.

Alongside regular electricity blackouts, Unicef has warned that Lebanon’s water supply systems are on the verge of collapse. Clean and safe drinking water has become one of the biggest threats to the health of Palestinian refugees.

With tears in her eyes, Laila described how the impact of the economic crisis has matched that of war and displacement. After her husband passed away six years ago, she searched desperately for work until an organization in Shatila offered to pay her USD 100 per month as a cook.

“Even though I am only pain USD 100, I do my best to manage and try to save up to buy medicine for my children when they need it.”

The Palestinian refugees in Shatila are currently in a never-ending cycle of crisis. Many of them are still recovering from the physical and psychological wounds of armed conflict that they have received. Now, they live in poverty and are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. []