As you know by now, social justice issues are important to me. There's plenty of injustice to go around, plenty for all of us to tackle. I want to alert you to a PBS program about a couple from Massachusetts who left home for Prague, Czechoslovakia to help desperate refugees escape Nazi Germany. The program is called Defying the Nazis. One couple defying hate. Now we have horrific violence in Syria and Iraq fueling the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Countries are sealing their borders, shunting refugees from one border to the next, and failing to provide desperately needed humanitarian aid. As always, women and children are the most vulnerable. The Dominican Republic revoked the citizenship of its residents who were born to undocumented Haitian parents. This meant deportation. Now refugees, with nothing waiting for them in Haiti, they're living in tent cities on the border, facing hunger, unemployment and government indifference. Who are the most vulnerable? Women and children. Check Myanmar to see what's being done to the Muslims in Rohingya. And then there's us. Do we have the courage of that Massachusetts couple to step out of our comfort zone to defy hate?
This is from the January 3 ANERA newsletter.
More than half of the residents in Wadi Khaled live under the poverty line, with a large portion of them being Syrian refugees.Back home in Syria, Nadia Al Hammoud had a house and a little farm. Now the mother of four is a refugee, living in a cattle barn in Lebanon. She fled Al Qusayr, Homs with her husband and four children in 2012, as the war took away all they had. The family of six ran away to save their lives, leaving behind any legal documents. Paperless, they settled in Wadi Khaled, a rural region on the Syrian-Lebanese border. “There are about 10,000 families residing in Wadi Khaled, equally divided between original Lebanese residents and refugee families who fled the civil war in Syria,” said Ali Al Badawi, the Mayor of Al Rama village in the Wadi Khaled area.
Poor Living Conditions for Syrian Refugees in WinterNadia and her family live in a single shoddy room in the cowshed. It has a cement floor that becomes frigid in the winter, walls that leak rainwater, and a roof rusted with asbestos. There are no glass windows in the shed, only open holes that let in the cold despite Nadia’s best efforts to seal them with nylon bags. But at 600 meters above sea level, the region is cold and windy. Winters see heavy snows. This winter, ANERA distributed winter protection kits to 1,500 Syrian refugee families like Nadia’s. The families reside in Wadi Khaled and Berkayel, both in northern Lebanon. The UN reports that the area is one of Lebanon’s “most deprived regions.” Of the 1.1 million residents, roughly 65% are under the poverty line. The crisis in Syria greatly affected the region, as 300,000 refugees have settled there after fleeing war.
Winter Boots and Battery Rechargeable Lights Support Moms Like Nadia
The winter kits include warm clothing, boots and battery rechargeable lights to address the lack of reliable electricity. On average, there are three to six hours of electricity per day, and many Syrian families cannot afford to buy generators.
According to the U.N. Gaza will be unlivable by 2020. That's four years from now. By then two million people will live there, one of the most densely populated small spaces in the world. As it is, they've barely recovered from the 2014 war...the third war in five years. 75,000 people are still homeless. What's the problem? A lack of cement and building materials. Israel imposes heavy restrictions on these items because they could be used to build tunnels. And cement at $475 a ton is far too costly for most families. Half the work force is out of a job. The factories and farms have been destroyed, so there are no jobs to be had. What else could go wrong? Let's talk about electricity - four hours a day or less, but when? So when do they cook, wash clothes, clean if they don't know when the water will be pumped to the rooftop storage tanks? Families who have generators can't afford many hours a day because of the high cost of fuel. I can't imagine the anger and frustration. ANERA says Gaza is unlivable now. I agree.