Five years into the civil war engulfing Syria nearly half the population has been displaced and four million have fled the country, according to the United Nations. The surrounding countries, Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, have taken the highest number, with Lebanon settling more than a million Syrian refugees.
Lebanon has proved to be cautious host. Clear in memory are the 400,000 Palestinian refugees still in the country since the creation of Israel. If permanently settled, the influx of Syrian refugees would represent a huge demographic change to the country of six million, upsetting Lebanon’s fragile Confessionalist Parliament whose powers are distributed along ethnic and religious lines.
In Anjar in the Bekaa Valley, just kilometres over the border from Damascus, Syrian refugees find themselves housed in very basic, temporary settlements. Settlements here do not grow large, Al-Jild is home to around a thousand people. A government-enacted law only allows refugees to build the foundations of their homes with breezeblocks; the rest must be with tarpaulin and timber. The law is strictly enforced by the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Louis Leeson is a reportage photojournalist with a background in documentary film. He studied at the London College of Communication from 2009 to 2012 where he received a First Class BA (Hons) in Photojournalism. Louis works in the UK and internationally for feature film, editorial, and humanitarian organisations. He shoots long-term investigative projects and has covered the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, FGM in The Gambia, and the refugee crisis engulfing Europe and the Middle East.
Louis’ work has been published in the Guardian, the Evening Standard, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, the Mirror, the International Business Times, Al-Jazeera, Vice News, Broadly, Huck, Nowness, Grazia, Marie Claire, Save the Children, War Child, and more. Louis is represented in the by the picture agency Eyevine.