November 10th, 2013 | Syrian refugeens
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agencies have had to reduce aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon and those who get no food assistance say they are falling into deep debt. With Syrians continuing to flood into Jordan and Lebanon, U.N. agencies were hard-pressed to provide food assistance to refugees for most of last year.
Twenty percent of registered refugees had their food aid cut off at the end of 2013 as the aid agencies decided they had to make tough choices. Forty-year-old Um-Odai, who fled the Syrian city of Homs along with her husband and five children, says her family stopped receiving assistance and now they owe a lot of money. Her husband is too sick to try to find work and four of her children are very young; her oldest son also has a wife and a newborn.
One of her sons, she says, works as a day laborer and whenever he finds a job he can bring money to the lean-to they occupy in the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli. But they are in debt to many shops in the area and they do not know how they will repay what they owe.
She calculates they owe $2,000 after living in Lebanon for a year-and-half.
On average, every week 11,000 new Syrian refugees arrive in Lebanon and, and because an agreement at the Geneva II peace talks appears elusive, the flow of those fleeing Syria’s civil war shows no sign of abating. If new arrivals continue at the current rate, a million Syrians will have registered as refugees in Lebanon by the beginning of next month.
The head of the U.N. refugee agency in Lebanon, Ninette Kelley, says the aid agencies have little choice but to focus on the neediest. Therefor we are making monthly cash programs for Syrian refugees.