Some families in the Ein el-Hilweh camp for Palestinian refugees told Save the Children they are too scared to leave their homes, despite only having limited supplies of food and water, due to the threat of gunfire that has been raging since Sunday.
Other families have fled the camp, the largest of 12 refugee camps in Lebanon, which is home to up to 80,000 people, and are sheltering in nearby schools.
Displaced families are also facing challenging conditions with many children becoming temporarily separated from their parents and caregivers as they seek safety.
Malak Joudi is a protection and advocacy officer working with Save the Children’s partner, Nabaa, a Lebanese group that support refugees, in a school hosting displaced families.
“We are currently supporting about 76 families – more than 300 people - in schools outside the camp who have fled from gunfight. With limited resources, the schools are grappling with overcrowding as we strive to accommodate and care for these displaced families and children. Despite the challenges, we are committed to providing them with the essentials they need, such as hygiene kits and blankets.
“One family we are caring for has a daughter who sustained injuries from the violent clashes in the camp, and their youngest daughter witnessed the incident. As a result, the youngest daughter is experiencing severe distress and fear, constantly asking about her sister's condition. We are providing the necessary support … to help the young girl cope with her experiences and emotions.”
Displaced families are also concerned about what they will return to and what may have happened to their homes during the clashes.
George Jreij, Area Manager for Save the Children said:
“We are seeing high numbers of children and families who are experiencing distress and uncertainty given the continued clashes. Many families fled the violence with no time to pack or prepare for displacement. We have been providing emergency cash assistance to the families impacted by the escalation to ensure they are able to meet their basic needs.
“Families have identified diapers and mattresses as their key necessities right now, as well as psychological and emotional support. We have also delivered nearly 200 emergency hygiene kits and are ready to scale up our response.”
Attempts at securing a ceasefire have yet to calm to the tension. Save the Children is calling on all parties to prioritise de-escalation of the situation so that children and their families can be protected and services, including schools, can safely resume.
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Save the Children is implementing Education and Child Protection Programmes through an existing community centre and with local partners and camp-based volunteers. As an immediate response, Save the Children has started to provide non-food items (NFI) kits and recreation kits to households affected by recent conflicts in the camp through our local partners, Developmental Action Without Borders (NABAA) and Islamic Welfare Association (ISWA). Save the Children is also working with Protection partners to provide immediate support to children impacted by the violence.
- The share of children out of the total population in Lebanon, according to data from the World Population Prospects 2022, is 32.9%. We applied this percentage to the number of people in Ein El Helwe to reach the approximate number of children affected to be 26,320. While estimates vary, the initial estimated number of the displaced people is approximately 4,000 households (around 20,000 individuals) and the number of estimated displaced.