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Jan 13, 2020

2019: 55,000 Refugees in Lebanon Provided Shelter

Rana & Ibrahim's son Fadi. Gavin Douglas/Concern.
Rana & Ibrahim's son Fadi. Gavin Douglas/Concern.

Dear Supporter,

Below you will find an update from Lebanon written by Concern's Tony Cuddihy. Read on to learn the story of just one of the 55,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon supported with shelter assistance by Concern in 2019. All thanks to generous supporters like you. Thank you.

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With 1.5 million people having fled Syria for neighboring Lebanon in the largest refugee crisis since World War II, your support has been crucial in helping some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

The nine-year Syrian crisis has taken a huge toll on families who have fled from their home country to Lebanon in search of safety. Those arriving in Lebanon have lost everything; their homes, their possessions and often, tragically, their loved ones. Thousands of people are now living in makeshift shelters, having difficulty accessing clean and safe drinking water, and struggling on a daily basis as they try to create a better life for themselves and for their children.

Thankfully, our supporters are helping us to make a difference as we endeavor to provide safety and security to those who need it the most. Your help means that these families can start to recover from the trauma of living in fear of their lives and restore their sense of dignity and confidence.

For 30-year-old Rana, life changed dramatically once she and her family were left with no choice but to leave their home in Syria. Rana and her husband Ibrahim had enjoyed a happy, quiet life at home before conflict broke out. When violence reached their town, the family was left with no choice but to leave with nothing but the clothes on their backs and cross the border into Lebanon.

“We brought nothing when we fled from Syria, just my children and the clothes that I was wearing,” she tells Concern. “We used all of our savings and we were left with nothing. We paid everything we had to get here.”

Left with nothing on their arrival in Lebanon, the family had no choice but to set up home in a flimsy tent with no protection from the cold. Lebanon’s punishing winters mean that a bitter chill runs through the shelter.

“When the winds come, we cannot sleep at all and when the rains came, the water came across the room. We put the children on the pile of mattresses to keep them safe from the water and my husband had to go outside to try to make a drain to stop the water from coming into the tent. We also put stones on the roof to try to keep the tarps from blowing off in the winds. We get very afraid that the whole roof will collapse on our head.”

This was no way for a family to live but, with your help, Concern has been able to provide life-saving essentials to Rana and her loved ones. We will continue to check in on the family to make sure they receive the support they need.

“Concern have given us tarpaulins, mattresses, blankets and diapers. The team regularly visit us and see what we need,” Rana explains. Giving Rana the means to look after her children has empowered her and enabled her to live with dignity.

Dec 9, 2019

From Tragedy to Recovery: A Refugee Story from Bangladesh

Amir in Bangladesh. Photo: Sabrina Idriss (2019).
Amir in Bangladesh. Photo: Sabrina Idriss (2019).

Dear Generous Supporter,

For this months's update, I'd like to share with you a story about a Rohingya refugee, one of the tens of thousands supported by Concern in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. But this refugee is special because he went from being a recipient of humanitarian assistance to a full-fledged humanitarian himself.

The story below was written by Concern's Clare Ahern and is evidence of the incredible impact your support has, but also of how Concern's staff of nearly 4,000 humanitarians worldwide all have their own inspiring stories.

TRAGEDY AND LOSS

At home in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Amir* never imagined he would one day become a refugee. In mid-2017, his wife had just given birth to their first child, a little baby boy. Life was relatively good and they were discovering the joy of parenthood. However, that joy was to be short-lived. In August of that year, as part of a major escalation of racial tensions, their village was attacked and they were forced to flee.

Amir’s mother, wife, and son managed to make it to a boat making towards Bangladesh. He and his father became separated and were taken captive, but managed to escape separately. Amir was badly injured. “They stabbed me in my back and my leg to ensure I could not leave.”

Amir and a group of his fellow captives eventually found a way to escape from where they were being detained. Heroically, they risked their lives to rescue others before they fled. “We knew that they were not going to spare a single female, no matter what age she was,” he says. “So we tried to get the females out first. No matter if it cost our lives.”

Tragically, Amir would learn that the boat carrying the rest of his family capsized. In agonizing pain from his stab wounds and close to unconsciousness, he searched for two days but never found them.

REFUGE AND RECOVERY

In October 2017 Amir reached at Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh and was admitted to a hospital to be treated for his wounds. Slowly he began to rebuild his life. He now works as a volunteer in one of Concern’s nutrition centers, which provide recovery support for young children who are severely malnourished.

Visiting households, he screens children and refers those who show symptoms to the nutrition centers.

He says, “I never imagined I could stand back up — I was traumatized from the death of my family. I feel much better now. I like working with the children.”

Amir has since re-married and he and his wife now have a young baby boy. Together, they live alongside his grandmother, father, and younger sister and he finds joy both in his work and spending time with his family. “I lost my own child and then gained another, but I also watch over so many in the camp.”

*Name has been changed for security reasons.

Nov 20, 2019

Continuing Crisis in the Horn

Ibraahin in Somalia. Photo: Kieran McConville.
Ibraahin in Somalia. Photo: Kieran McConville.

Dear Generous Supporter,

Ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa has left 12 million people severely insecure and over 785,000 children severely malnourished across Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and Uganda. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) expects these numbers to continue rising due to consecutive “poor” seasons that have destroyed livelihoods. 5.9 million people are internally displaced, 1.8 million of whom have been displaced due to drought. The crisis has also created 2.7 million refugees.

How did it get so bad?

While conflict does play a part in many of the countries involved in this crisis (especially, in recent years, Somalia), the greater issue that has exacerbated the Horn of Africa is weather. Year over year, rains continue to fall short of expectations with 2019 being one of the driest rainy seasons on record in over 35 years. In Ethiopia, the 2019 drought comes on top of prolonged drought in 2016 and 2017 — one that many communities are still struggling to recover from. With little water for crops and herds, livelihoods and food security are the next dominoes to fall.

How Concern is helping

We’ve spent 46 years in Ethiopia and are familiar with its weather-related shocks — the effects of which impact over 80% of the rural population. Our country programs have impacted 573,000 people directly and over 1.8 million people indirectly in six regions of the country and in the capital city of Addis Ababa. In 2017, we launched a 5-year integrated program targeting over 52,000 people to help more than 5,00 of the poorest households to “graduate” from poverty. We also scaled up our humanitarian response to being operational in 34 of the most affected districts across 6 different regions in 2018, helping with emergency nutrition services while also ensuring access to potable water, sanitation, and non-food items such as shelter and cooking equipment.

Our emergency team in Somalia (where we’ve worked for 33 years) provides a multi-sector response to drought, flood and displacement-affected households across the country. A key pillar of our response is unconditional cash transfers delivered through mobile phones, which enable families to quickly receive money to buy what they most need from local markets to meet basic needs such as food and healthcare. Much of our programming is also focused on finding durable solutions for communities that have been affected by displacement, often multiple times.

The human cost

In Somaliland, drought drove 78-year old Ibraahin and his flock of 200 goats and sheep to search for food and water on foot. After nearly 400 miles, Ibraahin lost more than half of his livestock and found nothing but dust. The father of 7 told Concern that the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa, which has driven hundreds of thousands of farming and herding families from their homes in search of food and water, is the worst he has ever seen. Increased numbers of displaced populations also create a ripple effect of other issues, ranging from overcrowding to gender-based violence.

With your continued support, Concern can make a lasting improvement in the lives of people like Ibraahin. Thank you.

 
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