Six Years of Crisis, 2.5 Years of Cash: Why Does It Still Matter?

This month is marking the sixth year since the start of the Syrian Crisis. Syrian families who sought refuge in Lebanon are still striving for better days, despite the harsh situation lack of work opportunity and uncertainties. Some of these families are benefiting from the Multipurpose Cash Assistance, an assistance delivered by the Lebanon Cash Consortium since December 2014. Every month, these families receive 175$ to help them meet their basic needs.

“With the 260000 LBP (175$) I pay the rent”, says Satam, who came to Lebanon six years ago. Satam’s two roomed house is poorly furnished, “I used to live in another place but we have heard of this one… It was more expensive but of better quality, so we moved here” explains Satam. Surrounded by his wife, five daughters and son, Satam narrates his trip from Syria to Lebanon, “we came to Lebanon with nothing on us, with didn’t have any asset or savings.” Cash has helped them ensure a better housing and pay back some of their debt. “I am glad I have a good relationship with the neighbors in the village. I have 800,000 LBP (equivalent to 530 USD) of debt at the shop next door. Whenever I find work, I reimburse it little by little.”

Few months ago, Satam suffered from a heart failure, which still prevents him from work. With no income, Satam hopes to find a solution as soon as possible to be capable to survive the crisis.

In another house, Fatim, takes care of her three daughters. Her son has gone missing in Syria. Fatim is in Lebanon since 5 years. Her daughters are working in olive tree fields around the village where they rent a small room. “This assistance just covers the rent. Recently, as one of my daughters gave birth, we also use it to buy some milk and items for the baby”. In her house, most of the furniture is donated by the neighbors “We came with three mattresses and blankets from Syria. We had nothing else.” Since June 2015, Fatim relies mostly on the cash assistance to meet her basic needs. “Just enough to survive”, she says.

In Zgharta, a village located in northern Lebanon, Mohamed has been living in his one-room shelter since 6 years. Having fled his hometown near Hama northern Syrian, Mohamed and his family (five children, and his wife) came with nothing but 500 USD in Lebanon. “After a few weeks, we had nothing” explained Mohamed. Since his arrival in Lebanon, Mohamed has not changed his shelter: the room consists of 4 mattresses, one carpet, a very small cupboard, two broken mirrors, and a leaking roof.

Mohamed is happy to say that he has no debt and always had good relationship with the neighborhood, thanks to the multipurpose cash assistance he had received since 2 years. “With the LCC assistance, I pay the rent, and the electricity. It covers it all. With the WFP assistance, I pay for the food. Although, when the food assistance was cut down, we relied only on the LCC assistance, we gave the priority to the rent, and reduced our meal. We only ate bread and rice when we were lacking income source.”
Mohamed remains positive, “three of my children are going to school, thanks again to the assistance we receive. Since I arrived here, I feel like the cash assistance has had a positive impact, and I managed to keep my head above water.”