It is extremely concerning that at least 15,000 children will be made homeless as a result of the demolition of Syrian homes in Arsal.
The Higher Defense council, a military body, had declared in mid-April that all “semi-permanent structures” built by Syrian refugees using materials other than timber and plastic sheeting in informal camps must be deconstructed. Refugees in Arsal had until June 9 to bring their homes into compliance, after which any non-compliant structures will be demolished.
The demolition of many of these homes could result in the destruction of household water and sanitation systems, leaving families at high risk of illness and disease.
In Arsal alone, there are 5,682 hard structures made of concrete that are set to be included in demolition plans. Those structures host more than 25,000 people. Other villages in Bekaa, Baalbeck and Hermel, also in Eastern Lebanon, are expected to witness similar measures, with several hundred families to be affected.
The Lebanese authorities should halt these planned demolitions and consider the wellbeing of children and families, as evictions such as those planned may not only lead to homelessness, but also result in disrupted education, loss of livelihoods and greater risk of illness and disease.
I work very closely with Save the Children and meet with them every month to discuss their work. I know that they are part of the humanitarian community present, including Edinburgh Direct Aid, in Lebanon to support local communities as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugees. They have raised their concerns regarding the situation of children in Arsal in meetings with the government and have pressed the Lebanese government to halt this decision until a satisfying solution is found, one that respects the Lebanese laws and regulations while protecting thousands of civilians from the physical and psychological impact of seeing their homes destroyed. I completely support these calls.
I have written an urgent letter to the Foreign Office, asking them what assistance they are providing to refugees in Lebanon at risk of losing their homes and requesting that they communicate concerns to the Lebanese authorities. See the response below:
I also contacted the Department for International Development to ask if they could allocate some funding to help with the housing issues being faced, and to provide aid for Syrians who cannot work legally. See the response below: