Maryam Al Okla is one of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees battling through winter in an unfamiliar place — living in cramped quarters with very little money and an uncertain future.
“At night it becomes really cold … because I don’t have diesel oil to heat the room. Our life is so miserable,” she recently told freelance journalist Paige Kollock in Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. You can watch the full report on the refugee crisis in Lebanon on Wednesday’s PBS NewsHour.
Al Okla is renting a one-room home, basically a storage container, from a man in Lebanon. “Thanks to him for letting us stay here. No one else looked at us except him,” she said through a translator.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that as of January, about 755,400 refugees have fled the fighting in their home country and are living mostly in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
According to the U.N. refugee agency, surveys of refugees reveal that they are beset by rising prices, a scarcity of livelihood opportunities and ballooning rents in the safer areas. Most refugees are entirely dependent on material assistance provided by UNHCR and other organizations.
“Two days ago, I told my husband I will return home (to Syria) even under the shelling because no one is taking care of us here,” Al Okla said. “But we are waiting. Maybe God will help us and relieve the situation.”