Human Rights

Emergency food aid saves Lebanese citizens, refugees from starvation

By Nohad Topalian

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The World Food Programme has increased its assistance to the Lebanese people and Syrian refugees in light of the difficult circumstances Lebanon is going through. [WFP]

BEIRUT -- Lebanon's economic crisis, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic and the Beirut port blast, has stripped thousands of Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugee families of their most basic right -- access to food.

Their tragic situation is made worse by the loss of more than 90% of the Lebanese pound's purchasing power, and an increase of 404% in the price of food since the downward trend began.

As the government has failed to address the roots of the crisis, international organisations and donor countries have filled the void through humanitarian support programmes to provide families with food rations and periodic aid.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has boosted its humanitarian support to Lebanon, and substantially increased it in response to the coronavirus outbreak and the August 2020 port explosion in Beirut.

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Some 82% of the population in Lebanon lives in multidimensional poverty, nearly double the 2019 poverty rate, according to the ESCWA. [Ibrahim Chalhoub/AFP]

Between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, the US government, through USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, supported the World Food Programme (WFP) by providing emergency food assistance to approximately 400,000 vulnerable Lebanese.

This emergency food assistance included in-kind food purchased locally within Lebanon and throughout the region.

Many Lebanese families say they would not have survived without the food they receive from the WFP.

Marleine, the mother of three children under 11, said her husband lost his job one year ago and that their house in Mar Mikhael was severely damaged in the port explosion.

"Since the explosion, I have been receiving my food ration from the WFP, through Caritas," she said.

The family of Syrian refugee Youssef Abdullah also receives food from the WFP, through "a special red credit card", he said.

"Without this assistance, I could not provide for my wife and daughter. I buy what I want from a store that co-operates with the WFP," he said.

In-kind, monetary aid

According to the United Nations' Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), 82% of the population in Lebanon lives in multidimensional poverty, which takes into account factors other than income, such as access to health, education and public utilities.

That rate has nearly doubled from 42% in 2019, to 82% in 2021, it said.

In addition to in-kind food aid, USAID is also working with the WFP to provide protracted emergency food assistance in the form of vouchers and cash transfers for food to 300,000 extremely vulnerable refugees from Syria and various other countries.

In the immediate weeks and months following the Beirut explosion, USAID also supported the WFP with emergency food assistance to nearly 78,000 people affected by the disaster. This assistance included food parcels and food vouchers.

Abdullah al-Wardat, the WFP's representative in Lebanon, said that because of inflation, food would be inaccessible to many families if not for this aid.

Thanks to the generous support from donors, "the WFP is currently assisting more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees and 600,000 Lebanese per month with cash assistance, food rations and other means", he said.

On November 11, during a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, WFP Executive Director David Beasley affirmed the programme's determination to continue providing assistance to Lebanon.

He said both monetary and in-kind aid will continue, and expressed hope for expanding the pool of recipients to 800,000 Lebanese individuals over the next two months.

Cash assistance, food rations

Rasha Abou Dargham, WFP spokesperson in Lebanon, told Al-Mashareq that generous donor support, including from the United States, is helping 1.7 million Lebanese families and Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

"The international support enables the programme to continue its humanitarian assistance which we provide in two ways: cash assistance, which allows the beneficiaries to buy the food they need, and rations of basic food items," she said.

Aid goes to the needy every month, she added.

In the immediate aftermath of the port explosion, the WFP distributed cash assistance to affected individuals for six months, Abou Dargham said.

"Given the circumstances in Lebanon and its deepening crisis, the more donor countries increase their support for the programme, the more we can diversify the aid and the more people could benefit from it," she said.

The United States is the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance in Lebanon. In fiscal year 2021, it provided more than $400 million in humanitarian assistance to Lebanon, including close to $100 million announced by President Biden in August 2021.

Between fiscal years 2012 and 2021, USAID provided more than $805 million in emergency food assistance in Lebanon, providing a critical lifeline for hundreds of thousands of food-insecure inhabitants of the country.

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369 Comment(s)

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Done

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I haven't benefited from any assistance.

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Allah willing, there will be real assistance not just illusions.

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Hope your assistance is real

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Please help

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Please help

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Thanks

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May Allah reward you!

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1500.1493

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I need food assistance.

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Assistance is the main element in rescuing peoples from death and sparing their lives.

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We need financial and food assistance.

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Assistance.

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O, Lord!

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It isn’t reaching all people. Just monitor where and how it’s spent and where the [unintelligible] is being sold. If a needy person needs [unintelligible], how can they get it?

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Thank you. Hope education support will be expanded. It’s not costlier to pay for student transportation than for the school fees. Thanks.

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When Arabs are united, Lebanon will become a paradise.

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May Allah bless you, but we haven't seen anything.

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I need help.

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I need help.

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The most important thing about assistance is that it reaches those who really need it. The assistance that creates job opportunities is much better than the other assistance. Projects should be built and job opportunities should be created.

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There are so many poor people who aren’t receiving anything.

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That's true

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We urgently need this assistance. Thanks for your co-operation.

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Assistance

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There are a lot of poor people and they aren't giving them anything.

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Thank you!

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We hope that countries will rush to the rescue of the Lebanese people who are facing a tough health and economic crisis and can’t afford to pay for medicines. Thanks a lot to all those who respond to this appeal for help.

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Indeed, it is a tough situation.

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We aren't seeing anything from anyone.

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I need assistance because of the crisis.

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We want you to help the needy in north Lebanon. Thanks.

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May Allah reward you well!

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Done

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We thank the WFP which has supported Lebanon in its crisis. Most of the Lebanese people are living under the poverty line and need food and financial assistance. We’re now living in a country where we have lost the basics of decent life: medical treatment, medicines, gas, and electricity. Lebanon needs your help in these tough circumstances.

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Hello. We’re five people in my family. My husband receives a pension of 1.5 million which isn’t enough to cover our expenses. Thanks.

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May Allah reward you well!

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Costly living, difficult conditions, and hunger

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God bless

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May Allah give those who give! Wish you good health and long life!

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Sow good wherever you go and wait for the harvest from the Lord of Mankind. 71321704

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It's certain that the economic crisis facing Lebanon is the worst since WWII, as poverty and need are now affecting every household, including us. Whatever is said is too little.

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Please help us

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I thank the WFP because it has helped me and my family through the food basket which my husband received. This was very helpful in our circumstances although it’s now been suspended. Please note that my husband has a disability in his foot. Hope you will give us financial assistance because we need it. Thanks.

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I’m not receiving any assistance from any organisations. Please help me.

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We received the food assistance twice and then it was suspended although everyone is receiving it. What is the cause?

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Please help me in these challenging circumstances. Thanks a lot. May Allah give you strength!

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We're proceeding thanks to you

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I need help. I’m not receiving any assistance although I have two young kids because I’m not registered with the UN. I have an appointment with them in May 2022 to be registered with the UN as if we aren’t humans. Please help me as everyone is taking assistance except me. Hope my message will reach you.

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Beautiful

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Allah willing, this will be correct

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All the Lebanese people need financial and psychological support

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I’m from Lebanon. I have been jobless for five years, and I don’t have any income. I only receive some assistance from my family. I’m divorced and have three children. I have a chronic disease, which is multiple sclerosis. So, please help me. Here’s my phone number: 9613489625. Thank you.

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I need help, please

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Khaled Obaid needs help.

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I’m Manhal Youssef. I have two children. I can’t afford to pay the rent. I’m jobless. One of my children is also sick.

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I’m from Lebanon. I’m married. I have a boy and a girl. My condition is miserable. My husband works for one day and then can’t find work for another ten days. My kids and I are staying with my family because we can no longer afford to rent a house. Hope you can help me and look at my condition. Here’s my number: 76887026

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Good

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Where can we register for the assistance?

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15001494

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My name is Zainab. I’m 34. I’m Lebanese. I’m married and have three children, and a kid who is one year and half old. My husband has been jobless since the port blast. I can’t provide for the basic needs of my children, not even milk for my baby. I also have to pay rent. Please consider my case and help me. My phone number is: 78997717

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We're not under the poverty line;' we're the poverty itself!

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My husband is jobless. We're tired, I swear.

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I have kids, but I don't have money to get them milk.

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1493 1500

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Please help. I’m Feras Mahrous al-Hemsi. I sustained a war injury. I’m married and have kids.

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Thanks.

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I have four kids.

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Please help us. I have children, and the number of my family members is 7. How can you help us?

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Abdul Rahim Mohamed Mostafa Abdul Karim, Tripoli, Lebanon.

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Originally, most of the Lebanese people are living because there isn't enough death. If you would like to help us, this is our number 76540609.

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I have four children and I'm jobless. Please help. 03974665

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Hello. I need help for me and my daughters.

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The Lebanese people have been unable to live with dignity since 2019. I’m one of those people whose conditions changed in the last two years. I’m the father of 7 minor daughters and I’ve been jobless since the start of crisis. I want to thank the WFP for its huge efforts; it gave me food assistance for two months only. This was like a huge reward for me, thank Allah, although it was temporary. I don’t know why it was suspended.

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O, Allah, You're the One who gives. 71646134. May Allah reward you well.

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Please, how can we get assistance? I have a family and I’m jobless. Here’s my phone number: 0096171808759

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Help. 76760709

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Hope to receive financial assistance along the food assistance to buy some necessary items.

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71229604

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Please help.

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There may be assistance, but it’s directed towards the Syrian people so they can stay in Lebanon. As to us, we get rejected and we don’t know why. We aren’t saying not to help the Syrians; that’s wrong; rather, we’re just saying that you should do us and them a favour, bring them back to their country and help them settle at their homes.

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Peace be upon you. I’m Syrian. I’ve been a resident of Lebanon since the Syrian war began. The situation in Lebanon is unbearable and harassing. My daughter is also sick. Please help us.

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Peace be upon you! I’m widow. I have three children. Nobody is supporting us except Allah. Hope you can cooperate with me.

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Abu Zainab

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I have two kids. Can you help me?

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Hello! We’re facing tough conditions. We’re paying 1.25 million in rent. We’re depriving ourselves so we can make ends meet. We haven’t seen any assistance from any entity. Here’s my phone number: 78940836

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I'm a Syrian refugee. I have four children and I need help.

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My husband is a cancer patient [unintelligible], and the disease is spreading. Please help.

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Peace be upon you! I hope you can help me because the situation in Lebanon is very tough. Foods are very expensive and we can’t afford to buy them. I suffer from immunodeficiency, and my husband is diabetic. Thanks.

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I’m a special needs man. I’m 42. I have two daughters -- aged 5 and 2. I’m jobless. Please help. 70786287

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Hope you'll help us because our situation is very bad in this country.

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Assistance

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Please help us; our situation has become very bad. My number is 79159412

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May Allah reward those who give.

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Only Allah knows how tough our situation is. We rely on Allah. 70945180

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I have a disabled kid. I need help. Thanks.

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I’m a mother of three children aged 4, 2 and 1. Hope you can help me as our situation is very tough.

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Allah’s peace and blessings be upon you! I urgently need help. I have young children. My husband is living with one kidney. He also suffers from extra brain electricity. You can get in touch with me via WhatsApp at 0096176875962.

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Thanks for the donor countries that are helping the Lebanese people. Our situation in Lebanon is very tough. There are very high prices. Thanks.

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O, what a country!

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I swear by Allah that I need financial assistance. I have a family. I’m Lebanese and I’m jobless. Our situation is extremely tough. Please help me. My phone number is 08505447.

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They have given me the assistance, but for two months only although I’m pregnant. We’re three people. Can we get the food assistance back? Please let me know. Thanks a lot.

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Welcome!

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We're all under the poverty line. We seek refuge in Allah. May Allah reward you well!

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Most Lebanese are in need of assistance, especially those in the north, Tripoli and Akar, because they’re deprived of everything.

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I have a family and my husband is a day labourer. We can’t get heating or food. I can’t even afford my children’s education. I hope you can help me. I’m from Baalbek-Hermel.

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Of course, we need [assistance] because we’re without a job. We aren’t even receiving assistance. Thanks.

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I'm from Lebanon. I need help. My situation is bad.

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Hope the assistance won't be suspended; we totally rely on it.

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All of Lebanon are in need, and I'm one of them.

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We certainly need assistance because our situation is very bad.

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Every Lebanese [citizen] needs assistance in this financial difficult crisis, as well as food. Thanks.

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This will reach all the Lebanese people, Allah willing!

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Our situation is tough. We’re living without electricity or shelter. We can’t afford the children’s needs, not even education. We can’t get milk and diapers for the baby. 71170173

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The situation is very tough; we can't feed our children.

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Thanks to all who help us as Lebanese people. May Allah reward you well!

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We need financial assistance urgently.

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I need urgent help. I have two young kids. My number is 70976821.

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We haven’t benefited from anything. My husband is 80, and I’m 60. 03940338.

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Right.

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We thank them for their cooperation and help.

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Please help!

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We need help in this bad situation.

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I need help. I have to pay rent and school fees. My situation is tough, especially as I have a disc problem. Everything is expensive. Our circumstances are difficult, and the rent has accrued.

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Please help if you can help with public schools.

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How can we register?

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I need help as I have young kids. Here's my number: 78933428

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In this dire situation, we need help.

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I want to register for assistance for a family that needs medicines and foods. 03357178

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Please help us!

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In this crisis, it's good to have assistance for the people.

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I want to get registered for renting a house in Tripoli. 71785869. Please help.

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I’m a widow and urgently need help. I now have no job. My number is 71102573. Hope somebody will help me, if possible.

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Please help!

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