The housing and shelter conditions for many of these refugees continue to be sub-standard, particularly in the Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut (central Lebanon), as the cost for renting and rehabilitation is usually higher compared to other regions. Of concern is the situation in Burj El Barajneh Palestinian Refugee Camp, the biggest refugee camp in Beirut. Currently, it is occupied by more than 40,000 people, including PRL, PRS, Syrian refugees and migrant workers. Of these, there are an estimated 1,500 Palestinian refugee families.
Two thirds of the PRL live in poverty, and the employment of one in three employed Palestinian refugees is insecure, working as temporary labourers, often for less than 500,000 LBP a month (approximately USD $31). With the complete closure of many businesses and types of economic activities, many workers in Lebanon are losing their means of survival. Poor families – including Palestinian refugees – are expected to slip into extreme poverty. Securing adequate housing for the most vulnerable families is an urgent priority, identified by the local community, as the majority do not receive any support other than cash support (of USD $100 per month per family) – provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
As a result of poor housing conditions, the rates of exposure to illness & injury and the need for hospitalisation increase, with the lack of appropriate conditions such as good ventilation, clean water, and a safe environment, among other issues. The general objectives of WA’s shelter rehabilitation projects in Lebanon, for more than a decade now, have been to focus on the most essential structural safety (i.e. fissures, cracks, corrosion, damaged ceilings and roofing); health & hygiene (plumbing issues – particularly in kitchens and bathrooms); security & privacy (especially secure doors & windows); and weather protection. These projects provide protection and support for these families through shelter rehabilitation and restoration of basic and essential facilities within them. The rehabilitation of each shelter usually takes 7-12 days.
Repair works have provided: safe lighting & electrical installations, improved water & sanitation facilities in bathrooms and kitchens, treated ventilation & damp problems, improved security through repaired doors and windows – according to the specific needs of each shelter. Providing shelter rehabilitation assistance benefits the refugee tenants living in the improved shelters (by improving their living conditions, their health, and general well-being). The Palestinian owners of the shelters will also gain improved assets, that they otherwise could not afford to repair.
This project was completed in 2022 and 15 families benefitted from 15 shelter rehabilitations:
3 of the 15 shelters underwent very urgent rehabilitation, where families were at risk from damaged rooftops and falling debris.
All the 15 families enjoy improved hygiene as a result of the rehabilitated kitchens and bathrooms.
7 of the 15 families have greater natural lighting and ventilation due to the enlargement and replacing of damaged windows.
8 of the 15 the homes will no longer experience rainwater leaking into their living rooms and bedrooms.
All 15 homes had some internal electrical repairs, improving the safety for the home's occupants.
Damp problems were resolved in all the renovated homes.
Outside wall and window before rehabilitation
Outside wall with no damp problems and window securely replaced, following rehabilitation works.
 Burj Barajneh camp was established in 1949 by the League of Red Cross Societies and is located in the southern suburb of Beirut, 4 kilometres from the capital’s downtown. The initial camp population was approximately 3,500 people. The camp was partially destroyed during the Israeli invasion in 1982 and the Lebanese civil war. Starting in 1969, the camp population expanded rapidly and the urban design changed. Building work was undertaken randomly, with no opportunity to increase the foundations. Roads became extremely narrow and infrastructure was put under heavy stress. These problems were compounded by the destruction of several Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war and the ongoing Syria crisis, each resulting in a wave of new refugees to Burj Barajneh.https://www.unrwa.org/where-we-work/lebanon/burj-barajneh-camp (Last accessed 9.2.2023)
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