Conflict in Syria, and the resultant mass exodus of its residents fleeing for safety, has greatly affected its neighbors, especially Lebanon. Of the 5.6 million people who have fled Syria since 2011, more than 1 million have settled in Lebanon. For a country with a total population of only 6 million residents, the strain of hosting a drastic influx of refugees has taken a toll on its infrastructure and resources.
Lebanon is already home to 450,000 Palestinian refugees, and while this small country has extended incredible generosity in hosting a new wave of refugees, there is only so much that one country can handle. In an effort to mitigate the probability of Syrian refugees staying long-term, Lebanon has banned the construction of formal camps. As of 2015, Syrian refugees are no longer allowed to register, a policy which has not necessarily decreased numbers, only the official registration of those who come. Refugees are living in substandard tents, unfinished buildings, sheds, and garages. Many regions of Lebanon experience freezing temperatures and snowfall during the winter, and these makeshift shelters (most often built by refugees themselves) cannot adequately address these environmental challenges.
Our first endeavor to empower refugees to improve their home and health through shelter improvements is starting from the ground up! Our survey of refugee families in Lebanon found that they were spending on average 16.54 hours per day on the floor in their shelter. That is a lot of time to spend on the cold bare ground! Aid organizations are banned from pouring concrete or providing any “permanent” flooring solution, but with Emergency Floor we can give people a warm, comfortable, clean floor that is also temporary and easy to move.
In the northeastern region of Lebanon, an area less-reached by humanitarian organizations due to instability, we partnered with GVC-Italia to bring Emergency Floor to the most vulnerable refugee population. With the flooring came warmth, a better shot at staying healthy, and a bit of dignity.
These floors were installed in 2016, and we’ve continued to follow up with the families who received them. More than half of the households have reported fewer trips to health clinics, and almost all of them are sleeping better at night since they are able to keep warm. They are also consuming less fuel to keep their shelters warm, which frees up resources to spend on other needs!
We want to bring this warmth to more people before the next winter hits! With every $300 donation, we can outfit an entire shelter with Emergency Floor. Your partnership can have a great impact on the lives of these families.
Written by Nicole Iman for Every Shelter – 06.15.2018