Imagine living on a farm. Going to the bathroom on the same dirt animals do. Sharing a tent with 12 others. Watching your children play in garbage.
That’s the reality for many Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Nearly 2 million Syrians have fled to the tiny country since 2011. That means one in four people are Syrian -- giving Lebanon more refugees per capita than any other country in the world.
Yet, there are no Syrian refugee camps.
So where do they live?
Anywhere they can find space -- chicken farms, potato fields, tents on the side of the road.
In October, I interviewed Lebanese Minister of Presidential Affairs Pierre Raffoul and asked why the government never created camps for Syrians. He said they didn't expect the Syrian war to last this long.
But there’s another reason I’ve heard: Lebanon is scarred from the Palestinian crisis. When Israel was founded in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled to Lebanon. The government created 12 refugee camps for them, and many never left. Lebanon thinks it made Palestinians too comfortable, and doesn’t want to do the same with Syrians.
So Syrians have a choice: they can live in one of Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian camps -- but they have to pay an average of $200 a month for rent, which many can't afford. Or, they can go with a cheaper option: find plots of land, like farms, and build huts and tents to live in.
That’s what most have done. Right now, there are about 1,500 informal settlements across the Lebanon. I took photos of many throughout my trip -- below are some galleries.
ZGHARTA: Chicken Farm