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Hilfswerk Austria International, 2016 A Year Full Of Challenges

Syria Aid 2016: A drop in the ocean?

They were all over the media, they went under our skin: Pictures of refugees from Syria. Men, women, children, babies: People on the run from war, violence, poverty, searching for a new beginning. Since 2006, Hilfswerk Austria International helps the people in Syria’s neighboring country Lebanon.

Humanitarian Aid in Lebanon

Half of the 1.5 million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children and youth. 250,000 Syrian children in Lebanon cannot attend school. The refugees’ other basic needs such as food, medical care and shelter cannot be (adequately) covered despite international efforts. The question of whether relief measures are a drop in the ocean is ubiquitous.

In our seven Hilfswerk Austria International Children’s Centers, we offer educational programs and we take care of the psychosocial health of the traumatized refugee children. In weekly football and handball training sessions, we resolve tensions between the Lebanese children and Syrian refugee children. In informal refugee camps, we provide access to medical services for women and children, and in winter we provide blankets and warm clothing. With these relief measures we currently reach 10,000 people in need.

2016: A Year full of Challenges

Hilfswerk Austria International project manager in Lebanon, Mireille Karaky, is Lebanese herself. She experiences the situation first-hand. 2016 was a particularly difficult year for her in Lebanon: “It is so hard to see the how urgently help is needed. So many children and young people are without any help. The basic needs of the refugees – and those of the Lebanese – are far from being met. I sometimes feel helpless; it makes me sad and frustrated that we don’t have the chance to reach everyone. ”


If one wonders about the near future, the prospect is depressing: if children and young people are partly traumatized and hardly have chances of a dignified life, the question of lost generations is a legitimate one. A prerequisite for stable, future generations is an immediate end to the war, rapid reconstruction and economic and social stabilization of the region. Humanitarian aid can already provide the foundation for this. The international aid organizations are on the right track.

“We must not forget that our help is not a drop in the ocean. If you see how a child laughs in your courses until the tears come, a little embrace as a thank you, or when you see how a mother is medically cared for after birth – these are the moments where it becomes clear that this help means the world to the people.”, motivates Karaky.