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Syrian Refugees Struggle with Rising Poverty Level

With a kind countenance and a giving heart, 7-year-old Abu cleans stairs for three to four hours each day to help his family make ends meet. Living together in a small apartment building in Jordan, Abu’s family shelters his cousin who was recently wounded fighting with the Free Syrian Army. Despite his young age, Abu is fortunate to only work a few hours a day. Some children only a few years his elder must quit school to be the primary breadwinners for their families.

Though rent is $140 per month, young Abu works all night, six days a week, in a pool hall to earn only $4 each night. While this adds up to a decent portion of the monthly rent, it neither covers the whole cost nor is it by any means enough to clothe and feed an entire family. Additional aid sent in by international NGOs cushions the situation to a certain extent, yet some children must work to sell the given aid in order to buy materials not accounted for, such as clothing and cleaning supplies.

And now winter is setting in. In addition to purchasing the essentials of everyday life, these poverty-stricken individuals struggle to stay warm and healthy. The poverty level amongst Syrian refugees, in the face of additional necessities of seasonal import, is increasing to an all-time high. Extensive numbers of families have fled the trauma of Syria’s uprising during the dead of winter, arriving in Lebanon, Jordan and other neighboring countries with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Cold air and rainwater seep into their refugee shacks, bringing respiratory infections and the outbreak of disease.

The Syrian refugees are not the only ones experiencing difficulty with the situation, however. As one of the smallest countries in the Middle East, Lebanon has managed to take on the largest refugee burden of all. The United Nations estimated that at the turn of the New Year, a lofty 900,000 Syrians would have entered Lebanon in an effort to escape violent conflict. Already experiencing a poverty level higher than desirable in some parts of the country, Lebanon must contemplate methods to deal with the incredible influx of troubled Syrians.

Najib Mikatie, Prime Minister of Lebanon, claims his country cannot handle any more displaced people. He looks to the U.N. for enhanced efforts on the part of displaced Syrians and finding a viable solution to the problem overall. By taking more refugees under its wing, Lebanon risks an untenable poverty level, which would do nothing but hinder the progress of the lives of refugees.

 – Jaclyn Stutz

Photo: CEIP
The Telegraph, The Telegraph, Lebanon PM, The Guardian