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Camping Across the Border. Not on holidays

Camping Across the Border. Not on holidays

This Syrian refugee boy is looking out from a tent window at a Syrian refugee camp in Bekaa Valley in Lebanon

As Australians worry when we can cross the border to visit our Nan or go camping, spare a thought for 71 million refugees who call a tent just over the border home. After over seven years of war in Syria, around 350,000 refugees are living in makeshift shelter camps in Bekaa Valley, a fertile but harsh valley in Lebanon, bordering Syria and this boy is one of them.

Along with the rest of his family, and like 71 million others, this young man faces very different COVID-19 threats to anything Australians can begin to imagine.

In this one camp, the total number of registered Syrian refugees in the Bekaa stands at 342,875 individuals. UNHCR’s office in Zahle works with over 50 operational partners, has agreements with 11 partners that implement projects, and a network of 232 refugee volunteers who work daily to assist the Bekaa’s 76,358 refugee families.

Of course Bekka is just one site and right now, three quarters of the world's refugees are hosted in developing regions with already overwhelmed and under-resourced healthcare systems. When a major new crisis occurs (such as COVID 19) or there is an economic downturn, donors are often forced to reduce and/or reallocate funding.  And as the coronavirus pandemic spreads and the death toll rises, the result is likely to be devastating for developing countries hosting large numbers of refugees.

With reducing donor support, it is very difficult for these countries to provide the services and resources needed to support their citizens and the refugees that are living within their borders.

How can you help

You can donate to causes like Act for Peace or participate in the Act For Peace Ration Challenge. Or get informed. There are many causes supporting refugees around the world and it's as simple as googling for an avalanche of information. 

Country level- be better informed

If you are a business, NGO, social enterprise (or anyone) looking to be better informed on refugee challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic hits economies globally and how refugees face new challenges when trying to rebuild their lives in developing countries, there is a constant stream of quality events.

Thomson Reuters Foundation and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency are hosting an online panel discussion 2:00 AM – 3:00 AM AEST on Friday, June 19, 2020.  It is free and involves someone you might recognise - Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at UNHCR. She is joined by Alix Marie Himbaza, Community Refugee Center Manager at Prison Fellowship International, Gideon Maltz, Executive Director at the Tent Partnership for Refugees, Maya Ghazal, High Profile Supporter for UNHCR and Aviation Engineering & Pilot Studies student and Belinda Goldsmith (Moderator), Editor-in-Chief at the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Anyone can attend these events and the unprecedented access we have to this level of speaker is guaranteed to give you a more accurate understanding of the issues, the opportunities and how you can get involved, with the assets you have. 

Donation note from Australia for UNHCR, the national partner for the UN Refugee Agency

You can donate to the Australian COVID-19 appeal here and directly support and protect refugees facing the threat of the coronavirus.

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