Having reached its tipping point, the Syrian Crisis is now entering its 6th year and continues on devastating the lives of those affected. More than 6.5 million Syrians have been displaced by the ongoing armed clashes, according to the United Nations. Two million of them have fled to neighboring countries Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Mahmoud El Hassan Ibn Abdallah, his wife and their five children left their house in Hossiyeh in the outskirts of Aleppo for a tented settlement in Zahle, in Central Bekaa Lebanon, in July 2014. He says they fled when planes and missiles stormed their neighborhood.
In Syria: life was beautiful
“We just want to go home, this is all what we wish and ask for,” states Mahmoud, a father of four boys and one girl, he used to be a real estate agent, owner of a supermarket and an agricultural land. Missing Syria and his hometown, Mahmoud describes life back home with his eyes twinkling of excitement and nostalgia “Life in Syria was heaven on earth, I used to visit my mother every morning, sip a cup of coffee with her, go to my different jobs, come back home have a delicious Aleppino dish with meat and nuts, take a nap, nap was essential, and then in the afternoon host people, go on road trips with the kids, buy supply to the supermarket. In Syria, we used to go out at 2 or 3 in the morning, we felt safe and conformable.”
War and the Shelter
In 2012, Mahmoud’s supermarket and real estate office had been laid waste to by a bombing raid. The family lost the bread and butter and lived off some savings. Their situation was rapidly degrading as the drums of war started banging over their house. “I built a shelter for my family =dug a hole in the garage a really tight hole, a 2 by 2 square meters, so tight that we barely fit,” declares Mahmoud, adding “ We ran to this shelter every time we heard the sound of the plane, the experience of the shelter was really traumatizing, my children used to scream each time we went down, it was extremely hot and small, we almost died from thirst, and the plane could stand just above our house for hours and we are down the hole suffocating, my little daughter Bushra got really traumatized that whenever she hears a little sound, even the sound of a car’s engine she ran down to the shelter.”
As he was recalling the days of the shelter, Mahmoud’s words came uninterrupted yet carried memories of the “good old days” from when it was still “safe” to live. Luckily, the war didn’t wash away the beautiful memories.
Two years in Lebanon.
Mahmoud got really ill and couldn’t sleep out of fear and anxiety, this is when in July 2014, he decided to flee his home and come to Lebanon where his cousin was already established. “Even though Turkey was closer to Aleppo, I decided to come to Lebanon. Here they speak Arabic and I had a cousin who helped me find a small room for my family,” says Mahmoud. Starting September 2015 Ibn Abdallah family started benefiting from the Multipurpose Cash Assistance, an assistance provided by Lebanon Cash Consortium and funded by The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), every month Mahmoud’s family received an amount of 175 USD (260,000 LBP) of unconditional cash assistance to make its own decisions in meeting its basic needs in a dignified and flexible way. “People in the tented settlement call this cash assistance the “260”, and the fact that we have the freedom to use the money for whatever we see necessary is making a positive impact of our daily life, we get to prioritize medicine over food, or meat over bread” declares Mahmoud, adding “We as family use the money to buy medicines, clean water, bread, vegetables and pay back our debt.”
To date, 18412 vulnerable households in Lebanon are benefitting from the multipurpose cash assistance. From the extreme north to southern Lebanon, this assistance is delivered by LCC and funded by ECHO to improve the situation of vulnerable refugees and lessen the burden of war.
Submitted by : Yara Chehayed - Lebanon Cash Consortium