When we were done in the meeting room, Ahmed took me around the office and introduced me to various people who worked as a part of the organization. URDA has set up camps all over Lebanon. By the end of 2015, they had established 33 camps in various regions throughout Lebanon, from the south in Saida and Beirut, to the Bekaa Valley, to the north in Aarsal and Akkar. Hundreds of thousands of people and many families have been able to find shelter and access electricity and clean water through URDA.
The people I met that day were mostly in charge of departments that manage those working directly with residents of the camps. “Residents” are the displaced people, primarily from Syria, who pay $200 per person annually to the Lebanese government in order to be granted resident status. To my understanding, this just meant that you had less of a chance getting hassled by the police. It’s not like you pay to have the same rights as Lebanese citizens or even the rights of UN-sanctioned refugees. Every person from Syria is meant to pay at least $200 a person. That may not seem like a lot, especially annually, but it’s another story when you have few ways of earning any money at all.