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Campaign Stories
  Acting on Pope Francis' call for inter-religious cooperation in the Middle East
  Lebanon: before and after displacement, through a Syrian refugee child's eyes
  Dialogue is the Solution in Syria, not War
  Displaced by conflict in Syria, refugee helps others
  Examining the role of women from a humanitarian perspective in response to the conflict in Syria
  In Syria conflict, persecution affects Muslims and Christians
  Jesuit priest: people of Homs hunger for normality
  Jesuit Refugee Service stands with Syria
  Jesuit Refugee Service Syria staff stand together in serving the displaced
  Jordan: accompaniment comes first for refugees
  Jordan: eat dust here or die in Syria
  Jordan: living in the shadow of Syria's crisis
  JRS in Iraq as winter imperils displaced families
  JRS Jordan director visits U.S. universities, parishes
  JRS urges Australia, U.S. to increase humanitarian intake
  Lebanon: educational boost for refugee children
  Lebanon: families from Syria seek safety, shelter
  Lebanon: JRS offers hope through education
  Lebanon: space for refugees from Syria to learn
  Lebanon: Syrian children need more than a traditional education
  Lebanon: Syrian refugee children counting on school
  Middle East: updates from JRS
  Pope urges concrete help for refugees
  Syria: between fear of violence and the struggle to survive
  Syria: bringing families together
  Syria: daily life a struggle to survive
  Syria: amidst upheaval, JRS expands services
  Syria: enduring spirit remains despite the rubble
  Syria: five years on, time for diplomacy to deliver
  Syria: food & fuel shortages add to daily woes
  Syria: interfaith family volunteers in Aleppo
  Syria: JRS refugee center destroyed, our work continues
  Syria: let this fourth anniversary of the war be the last
  Syria: maintaining normalcy in Aleppo
  Syria: Refugees from Iraq on the sidelines of yet another conflict
  Syria: shelter and food difficult to find
  Syria: thousands more displaced by violence in Aleppo
  Syria: turning pain into their most powerful weapon
  Syria: urgent need for winter supplies
  Syria: violence in Damascus fuels hopelessness, fear
  Syria: why people flee and why they need protection
  Syrian refugees face food cuts in Jordan, Lebanon
  Water is a precious gift in Syria
  Witnessing the hope and resilience of Syrians
Connect with us
An extended family live in the shelter in Naameh, Lebanon. Although their living conditions are far from ideal, the man says that at least his children are safe here. His eldest son was killed in cross-fire in Syria, prompting him to bring the rest of his family to safety in Lebanon. (Don Doll S.J. — Jesuit Refugee Service)

(Beirut) July 15, 2013 – The small town of Naameh, Lebanon, notorious for religious tensions and outbreaks of violence, seems an unlikely place for refugees to settle. Yet it has recently become home to 50 Syrian families (about 300 individuals) who are taking shelter in a derelict school.

Mohsin*, a Lebanese resident of Naameh says that he was moved by the sight of many Syrian families sleeping on the streets in and around the town, which is situated less than 13 miles south of Beirut along the coastal road.

"Women were also involved in unsafe activities, just to get some money to support their children," he said.

Along with a friend, Mohsin petitioned the local municipality to open the abandoned school in Naameh to offer shelter to the Syrian families. He explained that it was not an easy task, but eventually the municipality agreed. Despite municipal approval, they receive frequent random visits from the police who tell them they are not permitted to have people living in the school.

The two-story school comprises basic bathroom facilities, laundry area and cooking amenities. Four big gas stoves are available and families take turns cooking throughout the day. There is roughly one family per classroom, but in some cases rooms are partitioned by a hanging blanket.

Jesuit Refugee Service began providing material assistance — food, clothing, small stoves and hygiene kits — in the shelter last January. However there is an urgent need to improve the living conditions in the shelter, provide regular electricity, medical care for chronic illnesses and ensure the more than 150 children living in the shelter receive educational support.

Abu Feras*, a man living in the shelter who lost his 15 year-old son in the conflict, spoke of his personal ordeal. With his children seated around him, he explained the heartbreaking story of his eldest son's death as a result of crossfire, his funeral, and the fear pushed the family to flee Syria.

Overcome with emotion, tears flowed unchecked as he said his only wish for the future is to take his children back home, and to watch them grow up safely and in peace.

"The parents of Syrian families did the only thing they could to protect their children — they escaped the violence. It's up to us to now support them and secure their children's future through providing education," said Peter Balleis S.J., JRS International Director, during a recent trip to Lebanon.

JRS Lebanon is rolling out an Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) in areas where they work. The ALP is designed to help Syrian students learn French, English, Math and other subjects, so that they can enter the Lebanese public school system in the new academic year.

The situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is dire. The number of refugees officially registered by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is more than 400,000, but the government estimates nearly one million Syrians are in the country.

JRS is working in five locations in Lebanon, offering support to Syrians in areas there no other NGOs operate. You can support the work of JRS in Lebanon by making a secure online donation here.

by Zerene Haddad
JRS Middle East and North Africa

* Names changed for security reasons.


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