Life as a refugee

Protecting the victims of Lebanon's free fall

With the economic situation in Lebanon continues to worsen, Zeina tells her story as a struggling mother of two and the sole breadwinner in her family.

Updated 19 Jan 2022

With the economic situation in Lebanon continues to worsen, Zeina tells her story as a struggling mother of two and the sole breadwinner in her family.

With the economic situation in Lebanon continues to worsen, Zeina tells her story as a struggling mother of two and the sole breadwinner in her family.

The pandemic cost me my job. I was no longer able to cover even the basics such as rent and food. Every day, I was worried about being kicked out of my house and how I would survive with my children.

Zeina

Multiple crises

Lebanon is currently facing its biggest humanitarian crisis yet. 

An astonishing 80% of the population are living below the poverty line, placing Lebanon in one of the most severe economic crises of the 21st century as hyperinflation in the country has drastically devalued the Lebanese Lira.

The prices of basic goods and services have skyrocketed out of control, leaving the people of Lebanon struggling to pay for essential goods and services. Many have lost their jobs, their homes and are forced to rely on humanitarian assistance to survive.

For Zeina, a 45-year-old widow and sole supporter of two daughters, the repercussions of the multiple crises in Lebanon have been severe.

“The past two years have made living and surviving in Lebanon a hell,” said Zeina.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mother-of-two used to clean houses for a living.

Even during these desperate times, I have not allowed my daughters to work. They have to finish school and graduate. I may not be able to afford sending them to universities, but they have to graduate from school.

Zeina

Humanitarian assistance is a lifeline for millions of people

Without a stable source of income, Zeina was forced to take loans and fell into debt in order to be able to keep a roof over her head. With the help of Danish Refugee Council (DRC), and with humanitarian funding from the European Union, Zeina received protective cash assistance that helped her cover her rent and pay off her debt.

To further alleviate the economic burden and help Zeina have a more stable living situation, DRC referred her to another organisation that helped her find a job.

“I found a cleaning job in a school around here. I make 600,000 Lebanese Pounds (LBP), which I now use to cover my rent,” said Zeina.

As the local currency continues to plummet further, Zeina needs at least 2 million LBP to be able to get through the month. To make ends meet, Zeina also relies on humanitarian aid.

“Before 2020, a million LBP used to be more than enough for us to live a dignified life. Now, I cannot even afford my own medicine or healthcare with that amount,” she added.

For now, humanitarian assistance has become a lifeline for millions of Lebanese and Syrians in Lebanon. In the coming months, the economic situation is envisaged to further deteriorate. Increased support is therefore vital and urgently needed to ensure that millions of people who like Zeina are struggling, are able to survive.

Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has been operational in Lebanon since 2004, providing basic assistance and protection services to safeguard dignity, safety and wellbeing of the most vulnerable and at risk. With the support of European Humanitarian Aid, DRC is able to identify and respond to critical emergency needs.

 

*Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

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