The Polish Center for International Aid is using innovation and providing tents for Syrian refugees living in unstable and hostile conditions in the mountainous Arsal region in Lebanon.
In Lebanon, 75% of Syrian refugees live in rented accommodation, including garages and basements which can cost at least $100 USD a month. Family members unable to work, including single mothers, widows and wounded individuals have no means of paying rent and live in constant fear of eviction.
Since 2012, the Polish Center for International Aid (PCPM) has helped to alleviate the threat of eviction for the poorest refugees from Syria by paying part of their rent. As the payments are often sent directly to landlords, this has in turn benefited Lebanese families also in need of a source of stable income.
PCPM was one of the first organisations to introduce ATM cards as a mechanism for humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon; a good method given its reduction of operating costs and offering dignity to those who had become dependent on humanitarian aid overnight.
Reducing tent hazards in winter
On the Lebanese-Syrian border in Arsal, the region is covered with 155 camps housing 5,000 tents and 31,500 refugees. The region is popular due to lower living costs, but it is a hostile environment that is not easily accessible with the tightly controlled border making it difficult to cross.
The ongoing Syrian conflict continues to prevent Syrians from safely returning home, whilst the Lebanese government blocks the building of permanent buildings in refugee camps. This leaves refugees condemned to temporary, flammable tents that expose those living in them to the harsh cold in winter, when fires are most common.
To help reduce fire hazards, PCPM have been equipping camps with fire points and extinguishers, sand and other tools. Following training in another region of Akkar where PCPM has been providing assistance since 2012, Syrian refugees will also be taught how to fight tent fires.
To ensure vulnerable refugees have some form of cover over winter, PCPM plans to start constructing 1,600 tents, which will be doubled if the project is carried out successfully.