LEBANON: Fire Destroys Homes in Refugee Camps

Source: Missions Network News, July 6, 2017

On [Sunday, July 2], a fire broke out in the largest Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. It was followed by another fire on Tuesday [July 4] in a separate camp. Both fires took place in the Bekaa valley, and both claimed the lives of at least one person.

Preliminary investigations suggest the first fire began electrically. The fire spread quickly, too, due to the materials used in the camp to construct tents—materials like cardboard and tarps. To make matters worse, propane tanks used to fuel stoves stood in the way of the fire.

The cause of the fire actually proves just how desperate these refugee families are. The way [Heart for Lebanon spokesman Tom] Atema sees it, there are three outcomes in the camps for people in this situation.

One, he says, is that organizations [could] step up and fill the gap in “humanitarian aid, Christ’s love, conversations, delivering what they need to sustain life, and bring them into a relationship with Jesus Christ for eternal life.”

But if organizations and ministries don’t attempt to fill that gap, someone else will. This is the second outcome: “Radical groups fill that gap—and they will, and they are filling that gap with hatred and hiring kids as early as eight years of age to march for pay against the West.”

And finally, if neither of the previous outcomes have come true yet, they will steal what they need to survive. This final outcome seems to have contributed to the fire.

“Too many people were stealing electricity off the pole, and it caught fire, went down, and lit a tent on fire,” Atema explains.

» Read full story, which also tells the story of a family who lost their six-year-old daughter in one of these fires.

» See also 10 Principles for Serving Refugees (International Mission Board).

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