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U.N and Refugees
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  The Refugees

Role of NGOs

Middle East Council of Churches (MECC)

Within the framework of the action of the UNHCR in Lebanon, some NGOs, especially Caritas and the MECC, provide help to refugees.

Problems encountered by refugees

Sudanese, Iraqis, Somalis refugees and others live in an illegal situation. Their illegal entry to Lebanon does not entitle them to any legal status or work pursuit. Presently, refugees living conditions are extremely difficult: they constantly fear arrest, imprisonment and deportation because of their illegal status. In prison, the treatment of refugees is literally inhuman, in contradiction with all international instruments.

Social Situation:

  • Work is irregular for refugees. In most cases, they get fired because of the Lebanese Authorities restrictions on the illegal presence of foreigners. Refugees are also subject to exploitation: low wages, lack of respect...

  • Their housing in unhealthy and unfit places or building and in dirty neighborhoods results from the lack of financial means.

  • Refugees find it difficult to pay school tuition that are generally high; they are forced in most cases to take their children out from school and send them to work.

  • Refugees cannot afford to pay their medical treatment or bills.

  • Psychological problems :
    - Anxiety and fear
    - Loneliness, disorientation and feeling of strangeness, especially among young single refugees
    - Uprooting
    - Racial discrimination and exploitation, feeling of inferiority
    - Total absence of planing future

MECC assistance to refugees1:

Besides protection, refugees are assisted with the following services:

  • Counseling

  • Monthly financial aid to refugee families

  • Medical assistance (medicine consultations and tests)

  • School assistance and vocational training

  • Special care to women (creation of solidarity groups to help women refugees assist each other ; health and educational training sessions to build women capacities to sustain their family and children)

  • Special care for children (enroll them in educational and leisure activities)

A consultative session was held at the initiative of the "MECC Life and Service Department" to address the situation of foreigners in prison. One of the recommendations of this session was to organize training sessions to social workers dealing with prisoners.

One of the MECC social worker visits regularly refugees in detention to provide them moral support and answers some of their urgent needs.

Cooperation between the MECC and the UNHCR:

A partnership has been established between the office of the UNHCR in Lebanon and the MECC, whereby the "Life and Service Department" ensures direct assistance to refugees, migrants and displaced persons to help them overcome their daily problems, and improve their living conditions according to their needs.

1. This assistance includes displaced persons and migrant workers.