Lebanon: COVID-19 exacerbates already-impossible living situation for Syrian refugees - Action Agains Hunger report
Most refugees do not have sufficient access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services and infrastructure. The national water and sanitation network is weak and, even before the Syrian crisis, in some parts of Lebanon, residents had to use costly techniques typically associated with emergency settings –such as water trucking and desludging – to meet their needs.
Refugees in informal settlements rely on the limited amount of water brought in through water-trucking, an expensive method that compromises their dignity. Absence of permanent solutions to access to water and sanitation structures, such as connection to municipal water and sanitation networks, contribute to this issue. Together, these factors are increasing refugees’ risk of exposure to infectious and preventable diseases and other health issues.
When COVID-19 hit Lebanon, citizens were asked to improve their hygiene practices and follow social distancing protocols to slow the spread of the virus. But implementation of these practices in refugee camps - where water is scarce and people depend on humanitarian organizations for water supplies - is particularly difficult. Refugees only receive between seven and nine gallons of water per day, depending on the area where they lived – falling far short of the World Health Organization’s recommended 26 gallons per day. Furthermore, overcrowding and poor sanitation in camps make physical distancing difficult, exposing refugees to enormous health risks.