Lebanon: Syrian Refugees Living in Risky Conditions

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A Syrian boy from the Sheikh Maqsud district of Aleppo stands at a school being used as a refugee camp in the northern town of Afrin on 9 April 2013. (Photo: AFP - Dimitar Dilkoff)

By: Abdel Kafi al-Samad

Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013

As if Syrian refugees don’t have enough to deal with, an outbreak of scabies, a type of skin mite, has hit those residing in the North Lebanon town of Assoun.

It is not hard to spot where the refugees are in town. You will see them where clotheslines stretch along a row of garages on the main road. Dozens of children play in the street.

The number of refugees has grown, say Assoun residents. A March 2012 census conducted by the municipality revealed that 3,100 Syrian families have sought refuge in the area. More than 350 families are in the town of Assoun alone.

The town’s scarce resources are a hindrance to providing for the needs of the refugees. Stranded, and with few options, it was inevitable that these refugees would end up living in ill-equipped garages.

Inside the garages, there’s little except a sponge mattress or two, a blanket, some basic food items, and a small stove. The garages lack indoor bathrooms so inhabitants share an outdoor toilet or just go outdoors in the surrounding areas. A woman staying with her family in a garage said, “There are no bathrooms and no water tanks, what can we do?

The families lack basic amenities. One of the boys, no more than 10-years-old, said that he hasn’t been able to shower in over a week because there’s just no water. It’s these conditions that have led to the preventable outbreak of scabies.

Dr. Hanin Abdul-Qader, a specialist in public health, said that she has examined “40 patients infected with scabies so far, most of them are in a dire situation because they lack basic hygienic conditions.”

The town’s mayor, Mutasem Abdul-Qader, called on officials to “help the municipality take on the burden of hosting more than 350 Syrian refugee families whose numbers have exceeded the number of the town’s own residents.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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