The Syrian war has gone on for five years now, and if you’re a 20-something, that’s a quarter of your life. PRI interviews young Syrian refugees who are currently living in Lebanon, stunned that this is their new life. “At first when we came here, we were asylum seekers. We considered that maybe we were going to stay here for two years or [so],” says Aicha Hassan, a 25-year-old student from Homs. “Not more than two years.”
In late 2011, Ms. Hassan was part of the first wave of refugees who exiled to Lebanon, most thought the unrest would be over soon, as it was in other countries during the Arab Spring. At the beginning of the war, she and her family were able to take advantage of the then-plentiful aid resources in Lebanon. “Things were not so difficult three or four years ago,” Ms. Hassan tells PRI. “When we came here, more organizations were ready to help people and our [the Syrians’] number was limited.”
Syrians now account for a quarter of Lebanon’s population and according to PRI, aid has become “impossible” and living conditions “significantly worse” than just a few years ago. In 2014, Lebanon closed its borders to new arrivals, only accepting extreme emergency cases and those in transit to another country.