7. Understanding and Responding to Substance Use and Abuse in the Palestinian Refugee Camps inLebanon Prior to and During COVID-19 Times
Due to its geographical proximity to the Syrian confict and the occupied territories, Lebanon has experienced an infux of refugees in recent times. Palestinian refugees are an identifed key vulnerable population, with displaced communities increasingly experiencing camp insecurity, vulnerability to drug use and related health harms.
A qualitative study consisting of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) was undertaken as part of a regional exercise investigating Palestinian community experiences of substance and drug use in refugee camps. Thematic analysis triangulated the perspectives of 11 professional stakeholders representing United Nations, human rights and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and eight Palestinian community members.
Emerging themes centered on the interplay between socio-economic instability, lack of law enforcement and camp governance contributing to concerning levels of familial, drug and camp violence, trafcking and availability of drugs. Transactional sex and the exploitation of women and children in drug dealing, diversifcation toward drug manufacture and dealing of drugs with the outside community were described. There is a lack of harm reduction and rehabilitation supports for those in need.
This study highlights the complexities in tackling drug dealing and related criminal activity within refugee camps and humanitarian settings, and the vulnerabilities of those living within to harmful drug use