Samar Habib began a two-year term in Lebanon as the Australian Volunteers International (AVI) volunteer to UNRWA in September 2012, with APPEH as partner agency. She has been supporting us to reach our educational goals (see Project 5). In late January 2014, Alison Ford, Australian Partnerships Coordinator for AVI, informed the APPEH board that Samar had been moved out of UNRWA Lebanon and relocated to Jordan.
Lebanon has in recent months been increasingly affected by the war in Syria. This has had several impacts. The number of Syrian refugees is now to the point when one in five people in Lebanon are refugees. This places unrelenting pressure on government and NGO services. The area around Tripoli is virtually part of the Syrian war zone. There has been an increased incidence of attacks (mainly car bombs) in Beirut. Rival Syrian jihadist groups have been established in Lebanon leading to greater unpredictability. In this atmosphere, Lebanese have become increasingly politicised and polarised with the President unable to negotiate the formation of a cabinet.
Lebanon is the country where AVI developed and has maintained its most diligent security protocols. In the main these were to provide for the movement of volunteers into and out of Palestinian camps. AVI has had to recognise, however, that the overall security situation in Lebanon and especially Beirut is not conducive to managing a volunteer program.
APPEH is liaising with UNRWA to explore alternative ways of providing support.