Water and Sanitary Crisis in Syrian Refugee Camps, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon


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Date: 14/03/2014

Location: Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

The massive arrival of Syrians in neighboring Lebanon is having an impact on Lebanon's water resources. In the Syrian refugee camps, the availability of water is insufficient for everybody, and is often contaminated. And the country is suffering this year from an exceptional drought. The Litani River has become a sewer. Moreover, the waste management is inadequate for this number of people. The mountains of accumulated waste add to the sanitary hazard during the coming months of summer, when the temperature can go up to 40 degrees Celsius.
In the neighboring Lebanese villages, the poor economy, sanitary and water problems have become nearly impossible to solve. There, Lebanese citizens now openly disapprove of the Syrian presence.


− Various shots of Al Ward camp (250 inhabitants), in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon. − Various shots of open-air sewers − Various shots of empty water bottles and reservoirs.

− Interview with Khaled Hassan, camp manager Bite 1" There is a man who has a well nearby. We buy water from him. He sent us a 1-inch hose. We are 55 families depending on this hose, apart from 200 people outside the camp. The owner of the well turns the water on for 2-3 hours a day. By the time the water gets to the end of the camp, the water has been already been turned off. Believe me, some people can't manage to get 5 or 10 liters of water daily. And some families have 10 to 15 kids. They need water for laundry, cleaning etc. And the water is not even drinkable. It's merely for cleaning purposes."

− Various shots of camp manager Khaled Hassan walking in Al Ward camp.

− Interview with Khaled Hassan, camp manager Bite 1 "Look, here is a manual toilet, as we call it. As you can see, there's no water in it. Those people don’t have water for their daily hygienic purposes, for the kids, the women, the men. Water is our biggest problem."
− Bite 2: "The sewage disposal is also problematic. We have no way to dispose of used water. We dig holes, but within a week or 10 days, they get saturated. Take a look, we dug this passage to dispose of our water. Soon, it will start to smell bad, and to carry microbes, viruses, and mosquitoes. It's problematic also because our camp is long and narrow, so sewage is difficult to dispose of. "

− Various shots of camp manager Khaled Hassan walking towards the interior of a tent. − Various shots of children drinking contaminated water.

− Interview with Sami - Syrian refugee, father of the children "Our main problem is water. We aren't drinking clean water. And our children are falling sick. I have 10 kids. They would need 3 or 4 gallons of water daily. But I'm jobless so I can't afford them. If only the water problem could be solved. Every time we drink it, we get sick. When I take the children to the doctor, he says that it's from the water. But I can't get any clean water. We have to drink the water that is provided in the water tanks."

− Shot of clothes hanging. − Various shots of representatives of an NGO visiting camp manager for assessment.

− Interview with Tatiana Kreideh, evaluation officer at "Beyond" association. "The temperature is going to rise in the summer, and the tents are very close to each other, so we expect an increase in diseases and viruses in the camps. For this reason we have already started a campaign against Typhoid and we have already ordered a stock of vaccination units".

− Interview with Saleh Smayli - member of the municipal council of the village of Gaza in the Bekaa valley. "Gaza had 5-thousand inhabitants. With the Syrian brothers, we now have 30-thousand souls. They represent a heavy burden for us. As a municipality, we do no have the capacity or the means to deal with this number."

− Various shots of Saleh Smayli in his car driving in the area of Gaza. − Various shots of Saleh Smayli on a bridge on the Litani River.

− Interview with Saleh Smayli on the bridge on the Litani River. − Bite 1: " This is the Litani River. Normally, in past years, the water would reach up to this wall. Now instead of water flowing, we have sewers, used water from the camps, because the existing infrastructure is no good. So you have only sewage, but no water. The water used to be much higher, but this year it hasn’t rained, there is drought."

− Bite 2: "We expect this year the existing wells to go dry also. There won't be enough water for everyone".

− Various shot of dry bed of Litani River and nearby camp. − Various shots of Saleh Smayli walking to a waste dump opposite the Litani River, a few meters from the camp.

− Interview of Saleh Smayli in front of the garbage dump. − Bite 1:"Just 2 months ago, we got a bulldozer and we buried all the garbage. Look, a few months later, it's already back. " − Bite 2: It's very dangerous for the refugees' health. And we, as municipalities, have very little means".

− Various shots of garbage dump, including a dead cow less than 100 meters from the camp. − Various shots of the downtown of Gaza in the Bekaa valley. − Various shots of Saleh Smayli walking in the street.

− Interview of Saleh Smayli in the streets of Gaza. − Bite 1:"We are under a heavy pressure from the Syrian presence. In every room, in every garage, you have one, two or sometimes three big families. It's a heavy pressure on all the citizens." − Bite 2: "They won't be supportive much longer. Now the people are probably thinking of the day the refugees will be gone so can finally have a break."

− Ahmad - Inhabitant of Gaza:" We can't take the Syrians anymore. We were 4-thousand people, here in the center of the village, not more than that. I am telling you the truth. Now, there are refugees everywhere. There are 17-thousand Syrians. How are we going to take it? It's not their fault, but life here has become terrible. No water, no electricity, garbage everywhere. A small garbage can could do the job at the time. Now even with a big container, you can't collect all the waste. We don't know what to do."

− Ali - Inhabitant of Gaza: "We can sell more in the shops because there are more people. But the Syrians are all unemployed, they get into fights. When you don't work, you have to steal to survive."