BEIRUT, Lebanon, 6 January 2014 – Aya carefully sweeps the floor of the dimly lit room where she, her four siblings and her parents have lived since they arrived in Lebanon from the Syrian Arab Republic.
“I feel pain,” says Aya softly. “My parents are tired and have nothing.”
Despite her constant worry for her parents, 10-year-olf Aya has managed to keep her spirits. Her natural smile and sparkling eyes brighten up the somber room as if to match the glittery reflections of the sequins on her shirt.
Aya’s parents say their children have been out of school for two years now. In Lebanon, they can’t afford to send them to school, as the family barely makes enough to pay rent.
Aya is one of about 51,000 Palestinians who have fled the Syrian Arab Republic into Lebanon, according to figures from November 2013. More than half are sheltering in the 12 already overcrowded and impoverished Palestinian refugee camps, some of which have existed since 1948. Living conditions are extremely difficult: houses are damp and unventilated, streets are narrow, and the sewage systems flood regularly in winter.
Prior to the Syrian conflict, Lebanon, a country of around 4.2 million, hosted some 260,000 registered Palestinian refugees. The influx of Palestinians from Syria has strained the already limited resources, weak infrastructure and overstretched services available in these existing Palestinian camps.
Aya remembers when she used to have her own separate room, which had toys and even a computer. Here in Lebanon, she passes time alone in front of the family’s rented room, bouncing a ball….
Full report from UNICEF here.