“With coronavirus there is nothing left to eat”

For Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, the coronavirus epidemic has been too severe against them. Residing in Bekaa for eight years, Aicha’s family had found a balance that the virus had broken.

Aïcha and her family took refuge in Lebanon eight years ago after fleeing the war in Syria. They settled in the Bekaa Valley and over time managed to take care of themselves. But it was without reckoning with the economic crisis that hit the country last year. “In the past it was good. We managed to buy food,” Aïcha recalls. “But with the coronavirus there is nothing left to eat. You leave to buy food and you come home empty-handed because you can’t afford it.”

Badawi, one of Aicha’s cousins, worked as a day laborer. But since the confinement, he has been unemployed. At the same time, prices have doubled or even tripled. Badawi’s wife works 13 hours a day in the fields and earns 20 cents an hour. With the price increase, she has to work 4 hours to be able to buy a liter of milk.

“The situation is tragic with the pandemic. It’s hard to live that way. There are children who have never tasted meat here,” Badawi said. These families come from Homs, a region in Syria that has been ravaged by civil war. They don’t even know if their house is still standing.

These refugees claim to feel safe in Lebanon. But as it becomes increasingly difficult to meet their most basic needs, they feel compelled to return to Syria sooner than expected.