Facebook makes life easier for 30,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon: UNHCR

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BEIRUT: Syrian refugees in Lebanon are increasingly using Facebook to seek tips on enrolling in school, access information on residency permits and report abuse, according to the United Nations refugee agency. The UNHCR said Wednesday that Facebook group “I am a Syrian in Lebanon” has gained 30,000 members, since its launch in 2014, becoming a “one-stop shop for information for refugees wanting help with topics ranging from how to report abuse to accessing services and assistance” by the agency and its partners. “The Facebook page has been a real help to me and my family,” said Nour, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, who sought the group’s help when her son was assaulted. “The information provided... is accurate and correct.”

The woman behind the initiative, Oum Nidal, who is a Syrian refugee herself, told UNHCR that she wants to make sure the Syrian “community remains strong and united.”

“When we return to Syria, we need to rebuild,” she added. “We can’t do that if we are weak or depressed. I want to make sure the people don’t feel hopeless.” According to Oum Nidal, the page receives over 200 questions daily.

The UNHCR said that an increase in smartphone intake from 54 to 92 percent of Syrian refugees since fleeing to Lebanon “has given the page its moment.” More than 4 million Syrians have fled their country since the outbreak of the war in 2011, with roughly 1.5 million residing in Lebanon.

 

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