Syrian refugee Mohamed al-Bakhas is doing his best to protect his family from coronavirus by keeping their camp as clean as he can. But without enough soap or the money to buy sanitizer or face masks, there is only so much he can do.
“They gave us an awareness session and one bar of soap each, but this is not enough,” said Bakhas, 40, referring to aid workers who visited his camp in northern Lebanon this week.
“We ask for disinfectants, sanitizers for the camp. We are a big group,” said Bakhas, who fled to Lebanon from Homs in Syria eight years ago and lives with his wife and child.
Lebanon has recorded 149 cases of coronavirus. Four people have died from the virus so far.
No cases have been recorded yet among Syrian refugees, who number around 1 million of Lebanon’s population of 6 million.
As Lebanon’s public health system struggles with the outbreak, the government is worried about the virus spreading to camps for both Syrian and Palestinian refugees.
Health Minister Hamad Hassan said refugee health care was a responsibility shared by the state and United Nations agencies but he said the international community had been slow to react to the crisis.
“The international community with its U.N. agencies is a bit late in putting plans, thinking about establishing a field hospital or supporting the health ministry so that it can carry out its obligations toward its people: Lebanese society in addition to the Palestinian and Syrian brothers,” Hamad said.