Staggering and Sobering: Syrian Refugee Total Tops Two Million

Action Against Hunger expands programs in Lebanon, where over 700,000 Syrian refugees have fled
A young Syrian refugee. Photo: ACF-Lebanon
This young girl is a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon. Photo: ACF-Lebanon

Samia* silently sits on the floor, surrounded by tobacco leaves that have been left to dry in the sun.  Her wrinkly hands slowly and gently place the leaves in a heap as she gazes into space. The only noise is that of children playing in the distance.

Lives forever changed

Drying and curing tobacco leaves is one of the few options Samia has to earn some money. Her new life in Lebanon is completely different to the one she used to have only a couple dozen miles away, across the border in Syria. For weeks she hasn’t had any news from her daughters. "I am so scared for my children," she says. "We used to have land and lost everything." All that she has left are memories; memories of her children, her fields and her home; a life that used to be hers but no longer is.

"When we heard of an impending attack, I knew I must get my family away so we decided to leave our village," said Amir, who cultivates the tobacco leaves Samia is drying in front of the small tent that he now calls home. "I split my family into three groups and fled. We were too scared to walk as a group in case something would happen on the way; at least some of us would have survived if something bad had occurred."

In Syria, Amir worked as a professor of sociology; now he tries to grow tobacco leaves to earn some money. "Bombs were exploding everywhere; we weren’t able to sleep for over a week. A week after we left, our home was hit by a rocket. We lost everything."

"People arrive without any material belongings, but with so much fear. They fear for themselves, for the family members they left behind, and for not being able to return home."

Paolo Lubrano, Country Director, Action Against Hunger - Lebanon

More than two million desperately need help

Unfortunately, they aren't alone. A staggering milestone has just been met: more than two million people have now fled Syria, often with little more than the clothes on their back. Our teams are continuing to provide relief to refugees in Lebanon and neighboring countries.

Present in Lebanon since 2006, our food security and water and sanitation programs have recently doubled as refugees continue to flee the growing instability in Syria. Our humanitarian experts are distributing ceramic filters for potable water, water storage tanks and emergency hygiene kits, providing safe water and raising hygiene standards. Teams have also launched new relief programs in the Lebanese border town of Masnaa, one of the busiest crossing points between Syria and Lebanon, to respond to the increasing influx of refugees.

The Mesnaa intervention, coordinated with the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, supplements our work in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley; we're helping more than 30,000 displaced Syrians with basic sanitation and hygiene there. We're also working in southern Lebanon, prioritizing food distribution to the most vulnerable.

Stay tuned to the blog for more updates on our critical work with Syrian refugees in the region.

*Names in this post have been changed

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About Elisabeth Anderson Rapport

Elisabeth Anderson Rapport, Senior Communications Officer

Elisabeth is Action Against Hunger's senior communications officer, reporting on our impact and current events around the world.