Palestinian refugees in Lebanon desperately need help, says UN

Marginalized and vulnerable. The Palestinian refugees hit hard by Lebanon's financial meltdown.

Video Transcript

ZEINA KHODR: Life inside a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. Misery is everywhere. There is little infrastructure or services that would allow for a decent living. Many of the 200,000 refugees are poor, making survival even more difficult. And that was before the country's economy began to collapse more than a year ago.

MAHMOUD HASAN AL HASAN: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: The local currency lost its value. One kilo of meat is $34. A carton of eggs is $20. What can we eat?

ZEINA KHODR: Palestinians live in overcrowded, built up areas that decades ago were tent camps. Marginalized and vulnerable, the community has been hit hard by Lebanon's financial meltdown, particularly the sharp devaluation of the local currency.

SALEH KHATTAR: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: The country is in a miserable state, but the suffering in the camps is worse because we are besieged.

ZEINA KHODR: Lebanon doesn't make life easy for Palestinians. Authorities argue that is the way to discourage them from staying. The restrictions in place deny refugees some of their basic rights, and that includes working in jobs they are qualified to do.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: I studied photography but I haven't been able to find a job. No matter how hard you try, it's difficult in Lebanon.

ZEINA KHODR: Aid agencies say they can no longer cope as more people rely on food donations.

IBTISAM ABU SALIM: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: Lebanon's labor ministry obliges them to obtain a visa or a work permit. Then came the coronavirus pandemic, and then the devaluation of the currency.

ZEINA KHODR: The UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, provides health, education, and social services. It also provides cash assistance to the nearly 30,000 Palestinians who fled war in neighboring Syria.

But the agency says it doesn't have enough funds to cover the needs of those in Lebanon. Only 61,000 refugees receive cash handouts. The amount is $130 a year, or $12 a month, and the payment is made in Lebanese currency.

This affects purchasing power in a country, which imports almost everything.

UM AHMED: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: We can't afford to buy many things now. I have no one but God.

ZEINA KHODR: It's been crisis after crisis for a people whose struggle is not new.

Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera, Beirut.