On my recent trip to a Syrian refugee camp in the Bekaa Valley, I was struck by a Wifi router rising above the squalid living conditions:
Satellite dishes were also everywhere in this camp, which is located near the small Bekaa town of Jeb Janine:
The same was true further south in Ain El Hilwe camp, which has one of the worst living conditions for refugees from Syria:
Have a look at the technological state of one family’s kitchen, with no running water:
I think back to these images when people studying the region often claim the internet and social media networks are only accessible to elites.
Even when internet is scarce, satellite television channels often diseminate those youtube videos to a wider audience:
But all this is surely to change once the rains begin. Luckily for the hundreds of thousands living in tents like these, Lebanon has yet to see a major downfall this season. A few showers did significant damage in September, but this will be nothing compared to the massive floods in December and January, with hundreds of tent cities like these set up in flood zones across the Bekaa and elsewhere.
Even for the few tents that have concrete floors, they are only lifted a few inches off the ground, as seen in the photo above.
Meanwhile many roofs are made of cardboard:
Some aid workers have told me that plastic sheets are being distributed to camps, but I’m not sure how much that will help when the winds and mudslides kick in.
With a 50 percent total population increase, Lebanon faces a looming humanitarian crisis that is stretching already dilapidated public health and education institutions to capacity, as I recently wrote in a piece
for Al Jazeera.
I’m now working on a follow-up about the government’s response plan and it’s not looking very encouraging. According to the World Bank, Lebanon faces the greatest influx in modern history
, and so far, few countries have made concrete commitments to help out.
|Water siphoning at Jib Janeen camp