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UNHCR named Bushra the symbolic 1 millionth refugee. She was registered in the coastal city of Tripoli in northern Lebanon on Wednesday.
Before the conflict, she lived with her husband of five years and his family. He was a truck driver and was able to provide for the family. Now he is missing.
Her flight to Lebanon was a desperate last measure. She moved with her children from the city of Homs, where she lived, and sought safety in several villages to avoid tanks and shelling and gangs of men whom she feared would rape or kill her and her little ones. But soon, she said, the shooting would begin, the shelling would rain down and it would be time to leave.
That’s why, fifteen days ago, she and her kids crossed the border to Lebanon in the middle of the night.
When she saw a sign that said that she was in Lebanon, she told UNHCR, “I felt relief; I realized that we had escaped death.”
She has been living in a dilapidated two-room building in a Tripoli slum since crossing the border just over two weeks ago. When UNHCR visited her earlier this week, she was holding her son Sleiman in the corner where they sleep at night. Her daughter Hanin, aged three, huddled close to her mother in the room they share with 12 other refugees.
These photos capture some scenes from her first days in Lebanon:
Bushra’s story is as heartbreaking as a million others.
On the way to register as a refugee, she told UNHCR, “We need help. We hope this will end so we can go back to our house, back to our home. We need to feel peace and stability. We cannot ask for anything more.”
Bushra spends time with her two children, Sleiman and Hanin, in a two-room shack in a muddy slum in Tripoli that is known locally as “Tin Village.” Fifteen people cram into this tiny space at night. Hanin is often restless and cries a lot. “She’s been like this since her father disappeared, because she used to sleep next to him.”
A walk on the beach offers a temporary break from the difficulty of life right now. “I imagined I would come to Lebanon as a tourist. Not a refugee.”