Supporting Syrian women in Lebanon
7 Aug 2019 | Blog
As of December 2018, the Syrian Conflict has displaced over five million individuals, with an estimated 1.5 million having been displaced into Lebanon. Over the last two years, the Caritas Protection Program in Lebanon has become a critical initiative towards meeting the protection needs of 900 women and children displaced by the violence. Supported by DFAT through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership, Caritas Australia has continued to provide urgent protection services, aid in the recovery and strengthening of resilience of residents, and enhance and develop the operational capacity of the women’s shelters.
Global Caritas staff, including Caritas Australia Humanitarian Program Coordinator, Suzy McIntyre at the Oak Shelter
One of Caritas’ seminal achievements has been to develop protection services for unaccompanied adolescents that are often survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. Despite best efforts, this has been a critical gap in protection services within Lebanon. As such, the program has sought to provide specialist services and care including to create a separate space in the shelter for the girls, hiring dedicated caregivers and developing activities tailored towards adolescents that, along with a mentorship program, strengthen the care provided to the adolescents and eventually compliment solutions for them outside of the shelter. Over the next year, with the support of DFAT, the program will seek to therefore not only strengthen the quality of care for these unaccompanied adolescent girls, but to also prioritize their resettlement.
Beyond this, the program has taken measures to aid in the recovery throughout the difficult displacement by improving the quality of services provided in order to mitigate the potential impacts of long-term stays in the shelter. From feedback garnered in one-on-one interviews conducted with residents of Oak and Cedar shelters, the program continues to upgrade the quality of food, provide a greater variety of clothing and hygiene products, ensure consistent legal services and information sharing, and support residents through trauma counselling.
Examples of artworks created by residents of Oak and Cedar shelters
Beyond the material benefits that such support provides, Caritas has provided a sense of empowerment within the residents. Raising independence and wellbeing are critical in maintaining the dignity and self-worth of the women and girls in the shelter. As part of Caritas’ efforts to achieve this, the women are taught a range of arts and crafts that not only acts as a means of therapy but also develops their professional skills which they can then use once they have graduated the shelters.
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