Rising inflation has eroded purchasing power, while unemployment and poverty rates have escalated. Real GDP is estimated to have fallen 10.5% in 2021, on the back of falling 21.4% in 2020. The Lebanese pound continues to lose its value and inflation remains in triple figures. The crisis dramatically affects Lebanon’s population, with 82% of the population living in multidimensional poverty and 40% in extreme multidimensional poverty.
Palestinian refugees living in the refugee camps and gatherings in Lebanon have been badly affected, as they are already among the most vulnerable groups. As winter approached and the temperature began to drop, WA raised concerns for the wellbeing of the Palestinian refugee population living in or near Wavel Refugee Camp, located in the Beqaa Valley, East Lebanon.
These families are amongst the most impoverished in Lebanon and struggle to afford heating fuel to stay warm in their shelters.
The Bekaa Valley is known for its harsh winter weather, with temperatures regularly falling below freezing. Without proper access to food, heating fuel, and winter clothes, Palestinian refugees living in these areas face incredible hardship. With winter colds and flu often leading to more serious illnesses in these conditions.
In 2022 this project provided 300 Palestinian refugee families in Wavel Camp with emergency vouchers exchangeable for the fuel they needed for heating – helping them to survive the freezing weather.
Voucher-based emergency assistance is cost-effective and highly appreciated by the local communities for the following reasons: (a) providing a bundle of appropriate value vouchers increases beneficiary flexibility and autonomy, as they can be exchanged when needed; (b) the provision of vouchers, rather than in-kind items, eliminates costly transportation and storage expenses; c) vouchers, in comparison to the provision of in-kind items, benefits the local economy more directly.
Due to fantastic support for Welfare Association’s ‘Lebanon Emergency Winter Appeal’ in 2021-22, in early 2022 an extra 569 families were able to receive the vouchers, just before the harshest weather set in. Bringing the total to 869 families provided with winter fuel in 2022.
The project was able to support families like Salma and her husband Zayd,* 60, both unemployed PRS (Palestinian Refugees from Syria); and living with their two children in a small, uninsulated room which doesn’t have a solid roof. Their only income is the is the USD $100 per month they receive from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). This is not enough for food, heating, medications, and other necessities. Salma and Zayd said the vouchers they received from WA for heating fuel have been a great support.
Families like Amira’s were also helped in the project,* a 40-year-old woman, whose husband went missing in Syria and is believed to be dead. She suffers from advanced cancer and has two children. She does not have relatives, and worries about what will happen to her children after her death. She lives in a small room within the camp, she receives only USD $75 from UNRWA each month. Amira thanked WA and everyone in the UK who supported the appeal, she said this fuel helped her and her children get through the winter.
This winter emergency intervention was repeated in 2022-23
Thanks to a generous response again to our Winter Appeal in December 2022 and January 2023; vouchers exchangeable for vital heating fuel were provided to a further 481 families before the coldest weather set in.
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