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‘We misplaced all the things’: Syrian refugees caught up in Beirut blast | News

‘We misplaced all the things’: Syrian refugees caught up in Beirut blast | News

Beirut, Lebanon – More than two weeks after the Beirut blast that killed half of her household, Dima Steif, a 16-year-old Syrian refugee from Idlib, continues to be in shock.

Dima’s face is gaunt and impassive as she recollects August 4, the day she misplaced her mom Khaldi and two sisters, 22-year-old Latifa and 13-year-old Jude.

Her 18-year-old sister Diana was wounded whereas her father was not residence on the time of the explosion.

“We were at home, talking and laughing, when we heard the first explosion. We thought it was a fire, but then the next blow came and the whole earth shook underneath us,” mentioned Dima, as she hugged a shaggy pink stuffed animal that belonged to Jude.

Along with a printed scarf that Latifa used to put on and her personal journal, the stuffed toy was amongst a couple of issues Dima managed to tug out from the rubble of her household’s residence days after the blast.

“The roof had already collapsed before we could get out of the house,” mentioned Dima, who lived in Karantina, a poor Beirut neighbourhood close to the port. They had come to Lebanon in 2014 after escaping the civil warfare in Syria.

Dima and her father have been quickly staying at a lodge paid for by an assist organisation, whereas Diana is present process therapy in a Beirut hospital. 

Dima’s relations have been amongst many Syrian refugees who misplaced their lives on August 4.

A press release by the Syrian embassy on August eight mentioned 43 Syrians – virtually 1 / 4 of the roughly 180 victims – died when practically 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded at Beirut’s port.

The UN refugee company, UNHCR, mentioned it obtained reviews of the deaths of 89 registered Syrian refugees.

Omer Elnaiem, head of communications on the UNHCR, mentioned: “The organisation has only confirmed 14 so far.”  

‘Lost all the things’

Basma Tabaja, deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Lebanon, mentioned Syrians have been notably affected by the incident.

“A lot of Syrians worked at the port in offloading and loading cargo. Others lived in Karantina. That’s why many died or were injured,” mentioned Tabaja.

Fatima Abumaghara, 35, fled Aleppo together with her household in 2013. Her husband, Abdel Qader Balusso, died within the Beirut blast, abandoning 4 younger youngsters.

The 43-year-old labourer was working in Karantina on the time of the explosion. After his dying, Fatima mentioned life was not price residing.

“We lost everything of meaning. Their father, the most valuable thing, is gone,” Fatima mentioned as her two daughters, Nurulhuda, 13, and Farah, 18 months, huddled round her.

“The blast was even worse than what we experienced in Syria. At least, back there, we knew we might not live to see another day. But we never expected this here.”

In addition to the shock and a “constant struggle” to make ends meet earlier than that, Fatima mentioned her household has been the sufferer of discrimination since they moved to Lebanon.

“Life in Lebanon has been difficult every day,” mentioned Fatima, explaining that, as Syrians, her youngsters are often bullied at college and humiliated by their neighbours.

“We put up with all that for the sake of the kids’ future, but we’ve now lost any sense of safety and security.” 

The precise variety of Syrian refugees who died within the blast stays unclear [Arwa Ibrahim/Al Jazeera]

Already susceptible

There are practically a million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon, having moved there because the begin of the civil warfare in 2011, based on the UNHCR.

Thousands of them have been affected by the blast, mentioned Jihan Kaisi, govt director of Lebanese NGO the Union of Relief and Development Associations (URDA).

“And at least 100 Syrian families have been severely impacted. They now need everything from food and medicine to home rehabilitation,” mentioned Kaisi.

The UNHCR promised $35m to assist 100,000 folks affected by the blast, no matter their nationality. But Syrian refugees and migrant employees stay extra susceptible than others, say assist organisations.

“Syrian refugees were already part of the most vulnerable sector in the Lebanese society,” mentioned UNHCR’s Elnaeim.

“In recent months, the coronavirus pandemic and deepening financial crisis pushed the number of refugees living under extreme poverty in Lebanon from 50 to 75 percent,” he added, referring to a chronic financial disaster and lack of fundamental companies that sparked mass anti-government protests which have continued since final October.

“After the blast, they’ve been pushed further down.”

Tabaja agreed, saying that “Syrian refugees have an added layer of vulnerability”.

“It is harder for them to find work or adequately paid jobs,” she mentioned, explaining that entry to healthcare was one other impediment.

Although the Lebanese authorities promised to offer free hospital therapy to everybody affected by the explosion, media reviews indicated that some hospitals have refused to deal with Syrian refugees.

Dima misplaced her mom Khaldi and two sisters, 22-year-old Latifa and 13-year-old Jude within the blast. [Arwa Ibrahim/Al Jazeera] 

‘Wish I had died’

Fatima has spent her days because the blast making an attempt to succeed in aid organisations to assist her household.

Meanwhile, Dima – who stopped attending college two years in the past after her father may not afford the varsity bus charges – has divided her time between visiting her sister in hospital and collaborating in assist distributions close to the port.

“Going to the hospital and volunteering keep me busy, but nothing can really take my mind off my sisters and mother,” mentioned Dima, as she appeared away and clutched the pink toy extra tightly.

“I just wish I’d remained under the rubble and died with them.”

Follow Arwa Ibrahim on Twitter @arwaib

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