WADI KHALED, Lebanon (January 15, 2013) — On January 14 UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow visited some of the over 200,000 Syrian refugees who have been registered or are awaiting registration in Lebanon.
Lebanon is the country host to the highest number of refugees from the conflict in the Syrian Arabic Republic.
On the road to Wadi Khaled, in the northeast of Lebanon on the border of the Syrian Arab Republic, a few days after a devastating storm had hit the region, the snow and the frigid temperatures were a stark reminder of what refugees had been enduring since they fled their homes—and lives—because of violence and conflict.
Rami, a ten-year-old boy waiting to go to school, greeted Ms. Farrow in the early morning at an unfinished shell of a house that he now calls home. “I’m going to school, but I’m not happy here,” he said. “I lost my father and my brother in Syria,” he explained in a barely audible voice.
Although safe, life here is challenging, to say the least. Home is now one room without windows that Rami shares with 11 family members. It’s where he eats, sleeps and studies—when his mind is able to focus on the books.
“I came here with my mother, and I had to walk six hours in the dark to reach Lebanon,” he said, explaining that his eyes were glued to the ground to avoid landmines. “They told me: don’t step on the mines—it has a red button on it, and I saw a couple of them.”
It’s the many children like Rami who need such lifesaving supplies as warm coats, blankets, shoes and medicine, as all of their possessions were lost or left behind in the Syrian Arab Republic.
UNICEF Representative in Lebanon Annamaria Laurini, who is accompanying Ms. Farrow on the journey, said, “The needs are immense, and we are distributing winter clothes that are so desperately needed. We are also trying hard to reach not only the Syrian refugees, but also the host Lebanese families who have shown an amazing sense of hospitality when their own resources are overstretched.”
In a UNICEF-supported center where medical and psychosocial services are provided to Syrian refugee women, Ms. Farrow met with several women who expressed their sorrow and fear for the future of their children and families. The women spoke of an overwhelming feeling of despair and made an urgent plea for immediate assistance.
“Today was an unbroken chain of stories of loss, grief, deprivation, frustration, anxiety and always the longing to go home,” said Ms. Farrow, an actress and humanitarian activist.
The words of Hasna were especially haunting.
“No one is thinking of us,” she told Ms. Farrow, cradling a baby in her lap. “We became the orphans of the world. We want to go home—and above all, we want peace.”