SIDON, Lebanon: Some 1,000 refugee families from Syria received food and blankets in Sidon Thursday, in a humanitarian initiative led by Saudi and local aid organizations.
Families living in Sidon and in nearby Palestinian refugee camps gathered at the Rafik Hariri Cite Sportive to receive an aid package containing a first-aid kit, a baby care bag, a box of food items and four blankets.
The distribution of the aid was overseen by the Saudi National Campaign to Support the Brethren in Syria, the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development, and the Union of Aid Organizations for Syrian Refugees in Sidon, which is an association of local organizations.
Walid al-Jallal, the representative of the Saudi campaign, joined Sidon MP Bahia Hariri’s representative Bassam Hammoud and Kamel Kuzbar, head of the union in Sidon, to help distribute the aid packages.
“We completed today the first phase of distributing food aid, in addition to four blankets” for each family said Jallal, who added that a total of 3,000 food packages would be given out as part of the initiative.
Over 175,000 Syrians in Lebanon are registered with the United Nations, and Sidon and its environs are home to well over 10,000 refugees.
Hammoud underscored the importance of the government playing its role to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
“Aid efforts and individual initiatives don’t relieve the government of its duties toward displaced Syrians in the district of Sidon and its refugee camps.
“The number of the displaced exceeds the capacity of these organizations ... and it’s increasing,” he added.
Kuzbar also urged the Lebanese government to pay more attention to the issue of displaced Syrians, in particular their need for housing. He called for the establishment of an urgent plan to address this issue as the city is receiving dozens of refugees each day.
Starting in the early hours of the morning, hundreds of displaced families flooded Sidon’s Cite Sportive to receive their share of aid according to a schedule that was set by the Hariri Foundation and the union. The distribution took place in a calm atmosphere despite the crowds.
Tight security measures were in effect, with members of the Army, Internal Security Forces and Sidon’s police deployed around the stadium.
Umm Mohammad was holding her baby and waiting along with a group of other women for their turn.
“I fled fierce fighting in Homs with my family. I have three children and my husband works in Lebanon for a weekly wage of LL100,000, which barely covers our expenses,” she explained. “This aid has come just in time and we thank all the organizations and the union and Saudi Arabia for it.”
Umm Hisham, who arrived in the country from Aleppo, also had words of thanks for the organizations.
“We thank Saudi Arabia and our brethren in Sidon for the aid and care they have given us,” she said. “There are many families who face great hardship and require many similar humanitarian initiatives.
“At least we are being treated with respect; the aid workers’ approach is excellent and everyone shares with us our burden,” she added.
Hajj Youssef, who fled battles in the southern Syrian city of Deraa with his family, said that while he was thankful for the aid, it wasn’t enough.
“We live along with seven other families in two rented houses,” he said. “We received some aid but it wasn’t enough. However, the aid organizations are providing us with what they can get.”