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  • The comments and opinions expressed herein on this web site do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and point of view of Lutheran Hour Ministries. Statements are made exclusively by the author and appear as written and have not be subject to the Lutheran Hour Ministries doctrinal review process.

Reaching Out to Iraqi Refugees

Overview

Like with the Syrian refugees who fled their country to Lebanon due to civil war, Lebanon has also served as a host country for Christian Iraqi refugees who fled from their war torn country. Under the threat of death or conversion by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), thousands of Christians have fled Iraq over the last several months to Lebanon. There are currently more than 17,000 Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, according to Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas. Most of them are seeking to be resettled out of Lebanon, but the process can be very slow and painful.

Their traumatic experience

Very little is known about the Iraqi refugees’ experiences and living conditions in Lebanon. The refugees witnessed or lived through traumatic experiences in Iraq, such as threats to their lives, abduction, killing, destruction and challenging humanitarian conditions. This forced them to flee their homeland to Lebanon leaving all their processions behind.

Current Humanitarian Situation

New research into food insecurity among Iraqi refugees in Lebanon highlights alarming rates of poor nutrition. A survey led by Hala Ghattas of the department of nutrition and food sciences at the American University of Beirut showed that over 40 percent of Iraqi refugee children under the age of 5 have anemia, an iron deficiency that could have major health consequences later.

“High food insecurity, low diet quality and high prevalence of anemia in Iraqi refugees living in Lebanon call for urgent programs to address the food and health situation of this population with restricted rights,” Hala said.

In addition, refugees have to contend with rising rents and expensive health care costs, and much of their income goes to those expenses. “Because of all the expenses the families face, they have to prioritize somewhere,” the authors said.

MELM Responds to their Needs

The Iraqi Christian refugees in Lebanon who live in small poor and unhealthy houses and are scattered in the poor suburbs of Beirut are largely un-noticed and suffer silently. However, MELM observed their needs and prepared holistic support packages for one hundred families and their children.

Each family received 3 kg of rice, 3 kg of wheat groats (bergol), 2 kg of sugar, 2 liters of oil, tomato sauce, 4 potions of pasta, 2 portion of Tuna fish, 2 portions of sardine, 2 portions of cheese, meat cans, Halawa, Foul, beans and salt.

We also provided milk and hygiene materials for children, some of them were in a state of malnutrition. We had a list of 36 children below three years of age who needed support; each package contained milk, diapers, wet wipes and shampoo.

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