This refugee settlement in southern Lebanon is composed almost entirely of people from the same village in Syria. These sheds are not equipped for winter and will flood with heavy rains. (MCC photo/Sarah Adams)
MCC photo/Sarah Adams

This refugee settlement in southern Lebanon is composed almost entirely of people from the same village in Syria. These sheds are not equipped for winter and will flood with heavy rains.

WINNIPEG, Man. — Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has received a new grant of $600,000 from the government of Canada to provide shelter assistance and other essential items to Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s winter rains have begun earlier than past years, and shelter is the primary need for those fleeing the conflict in Syria. “The homes are very basic and not originally built for winter,” said Rita Hamdan, director of Popular Aid for Relief and Development (PARD), an MCC partner. “People are ready to use any room they can find even if it has no window or door and water comes in.”

There are an estimated 1 million Syrian refugees and Palestinian refugees from Syria now living in Lebanon—making up nearly 20 percent of the country’s population.

With the new grant, MCC will provide rent support to 350 families in southern Lebanon and Mount Lebanon. Another 130 families will receive assistance with urgent home repairs. MCC’s partners PARD and Development for People and Nature Association (DPNA) will determine which families are most in need and coordinate the distribution.

In addition to the shelter support, another 1,000 families will receive essential items such as mattresses, blankets and hygiene supplies.

In winter, rain can infiltrate homes and turn floors into lakes. Last rainy season, 100 people’s mattresses were ruined when the warehouse they lived in flooded. On many shelters “tires and stones are being used to steady the sheets of plastic used for a roof,” said Hamdan. “People shouldn't have to live like this.”

It’s also common for several families to share a small apartment; others are constantly on the move, forced out by landlords when they can’t pay the rent. “People in the southern refugee gatherings have no guarantee they can stay in their homes,” said Hamdan. “They are always in fear of being evicted.”

To help support MCC’s ongoing response in the region, please donate at donate.mcc.org/project/middle-east-crisis.

Emily Loewen is staff writer for MCC Canada.