Lebanon (MNN) — The United Nations stopped registering Syrian refugees in Lebanon back in May 2015. It’s been over two years now and the UN only formally recognizes just over one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. However, they admit that that population today has probably almost doubled.
Plight of the unregistered refugee
Camille* with Heart for Lebanon shares, “I was shocked to hear that the United Nations has stopped registering refugees in Lebanon since December 2015.… The key word here is those who are ‘registered’ with the United Nations. They would tell you there are easily an additional 600,000-700,000 refugees from Syria who live in Lebanon who are not registered.”
For displaced individuals, not being registered means you can’t get any government assistance. Any aid pledged by the UN can only go to registered refugees. This means around 40 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are outside the reach of government aid.
“You’re talking about around 1.7-1.8 million [Syrian] refugees living in Lebanon. This is a country that has a population of 4 million individuals. After [those]1.8 million Syrian refugees, another 100,000 Iraqi refugees, and another half a million Palestinian refugees, more than half the population in Lebanon today is a refugee from a neighboring country.”
Heart for Lebanon is serving 3,000 Syrian refugee families each month — around 27,000 individuals — with schooling and physical aid.
Camille explains, “We are providing a basic food and hygiene supply package for every family on a monthly basis. This is roughly $80 worth of supplies of humanitarian aid, plus our opportunity to do the assessment…as well as follow-up visits we do almost on a daily basis.”
One of Heart for Lebanon’s focuses in refugee care is restoring dignity. And restoring dignity means more than dropping off aid and leaving. It means sitting, fellowshipping, spending time with refugee families, and hearing their stories.
“Our goal is to work on reconciling the refugee families, being agents of peacebuilding with the individuals that we are engaging in serious conversations — reconciling them with God their Creator, Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and reconciling them with their neighbors.”
As Heart for Lebanon staffers engage in spiritual conversations with Syrian refugees, they have to opportunity to extend invitations to Bible studies and worship gatherings. And they’re seeing lives changed.
“We have worshipping communities now in the south of Lebanon and we are starting another one in the Bekaa [Valley],” says Camille. “We have 13 different Bible studies of folks who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior who want to be discipled and become mature Christians. This is what excites us!”
The operation costs around $240,000 every month for Heart for Lebanon to continue to support the number of families they work with. “It’s an ongoing need that we have on every given month. We have been extremely blessed by the partners, churches, individuals, foundations, and businesses — all faith-based, all with the same mission to share the love of Jesus and his compassionate heart with the people who are in need.”
Hope Ministry Center
Currently, Heart for Lebanon is running their Capital Campaign to raise funds for a 54,000 square-foot ministry building called the Hope Ministry Center. A foundation partner has committed to match every dollar given up to $300,000 to the Capital Campaign.
Tom* with Heart for Lebanon explains, “That building is going to have a school for 250 children. It will allow us to double, a little bit more than double actually, our humanitarian aid to the refugees. It’s in the center of the migration route to and from Syria and is strategically located for the under-resourced Lebanese people as well.”
The Hope Ministry Center would also serve as a chapel for the refugee Church. Heart for Lebanon’s goal is to see this project fulfilled by the end of 2017.
Tom adds, “We’re full of gratitude because in the last three months…we were given a four-star rating by Charity Navigator, Excellence in Giving, and Charity Watch where they say 92-94% of every dollar given to us goes directly into programming. We work hard on that and we’re thankful for that.”
Finally, Camille says they could really use your prayers. “We don’t take prayer lightly at all. We know that we live in a very peculiar part of the world and we live in a very turbulent part of the world.”
- protection for the Heart for Lebanon staff and those they are ministering to.
- wisdom and discernment as they seek out individuals in need of aid.
- perseverance and that the staff would not become laden with compassion fatigue, but would have stamina from God to carry out their mission.
- health, both physically and spiritually.
- more workers to join Heart for Lebanon in this critical ministry to refugees in Lebanon.
*Full name withheld for security purposes.