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Lebanon update: A glimmer of hope

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“Last year there were many snowstorms,” said Mamdouh, who lives in a tent with his wife Noor and their three children. “I had to stay up at night to remove snow from the top of the tent so that it wouldn’t fall or break.”

Fires are also a major threat for tents in winter. On the coldest nights, families are forced to keep their stoves on to stay warm.

Mamdouh thought he was ready for winter this year. “I received a winter kit from Medair,” said Mamdouh. “I repaired my tent and supported it by adding more wood to the top so it could withstand the snow and wind.”

It wasn’t the snow or wind that caused disaster to strike in January. It was the cold.

“It was a very cold night and we had to keep the stove on, because blankets weren’t enough to keep us warm in that freezing weather,” said Noor. “I don’t remember what happened. The fire just started. Maybe the blanket got closer to the stove and caught fire, or the stove fell and burned everything.”

Mamdouh and Noor immediately got their children out of the tent, and neighbours ran to help put the fire out. In an instant, they lost all their belongings. What little they had left was gone. “I remembered how we fled from Syria, how we lost everything, and my biggest fear was losing one of my children,” said Noor. “All that came back at once – the terrifying feeling, insecurity, pain.”

The next morning, the UN alerted Medair to the fire in Mamdouh’s tent. We headed to the settlement right away. “They had lost everything,” said Omar, the senior assessment officer. “We coordinated an emergency shelter intervention to respond quickly. The family received a big vinyl sheet, wood boards, plywood, a tool kit, and mattresses with blankets.”

“We couldn’t believe that we received aid and a new shelter kit that fast,” said Mahmoud. “It brought hope back and saved us from sleeping here and there with three kids in this freezing weather. We are very thankful for the help we received.”

Medair’s projects in Lebanon are supported by the European Commission, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Swiss Solidarity, ERIKS Development Partner (SE), Läkarmissionen (SE), Transform Aid International (AU), and gifts from private supporters around the world.