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EU Ambassador Christina Lassen visited today the Beqaa to meet with Syrian refugee families benefiting from EU assistance. The visit was organised by the EU's humanitarian aid department, ECHO, together with the World Food Programme and International Rescue Committee.
In the town of Qab Elias, families of Syrian refugees shared their grievances, needs and daily challenges with Ambassador Lassen. Their testimonies shed light on the harsh and abrupt disruption in their lives, caused by their displacement from Syria. "In Syria, we suffered a lot when the war broke. We were internally displaced, travelling from village to village for six months before making it to Lebanon," Ali said. He added: "The assistance carries us until the middle of the month, then we cover the rest of our expenses by taking out debts."
Several families described how EU assistance has significantly improved their living conditions. "With our multi-purpose cash, we are able to buy more food, as well as cover our electricity, heating gas, and pay for a bit of our rent," one family said. "Now we can buy fresh produce from the weekly farmers' market, which is much cheaper than a supermarket," it added.
The EU's humanitarian aid, through ECHO, has reached around 750,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The EU has been providing cash assistance, non-formal education and shelter – including water, hygiene and sanitation – to improve the conditions of the families most affected by the displacement.
The EU has partnered with the World Food Programme to provide cash assistance to vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The cash assistance gives the families the choice to spend it on their food, health, education, shelter and other needs.
The EU is also working with the International Rescue Committee to help Syrian refugees with advice and legal assistance through its protection programme, for example to victims of violence.
"What I have seen today reminded me of the extremely difficult situation the refugees are facing since seven years, in particular now in the middle of the winter season," Ambassador Lassen said. "We are here today to say that there are people seeking refuge in Lebanon who have lost almost everything and that there are the Lebanese who are hosting them and showing incredible hospitality and generosity," Ambassador Lassen said.
Ambassador Lassen reaffirmed the EU's commitment to support refugees and Lebanon pointing out that the EU has delivered since 2012 more than €1.1 billion to address the needs of both Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees affected by the crisis. The EU is providing, as part of its response, long-term support for the Lebanese people as well as for Lebanon's infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, water and waste.