Bassel and his parents came to Lebanon at the very start of the Syrian War. “The war started very early where we lived,” the father explains to us. “It used to be quiet and peaceful, but this all changed when all we could hear was war planes overhead and the noise of people suffering and screaming in the street.”

The family left as soon as they could. “If we wanted our children to be safe we had to leave our country. Our children were young at the time, they shouldn’t have to grow up around all this violence.”

The camp

Ever since, the family have lived in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. They miss the old days in their village, when life was simple, and their children didn’t have to worry about their futures.

As is protocol in Lebanon, all Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR have to renew their residency in the country every year. The family had gone to get their permits renewed and had been in the offices for over four hours.

Bassel at AUBMC Syrian refugee INARA Arwa Damon

“We were exhausted, so I decided to make some tea when we got back,” his mother tells us. “I started talking with my daughter and completely forgot that the water was boiling in the kitchen.”

The next noise they heard was Bassel crying loudly. Instantly his mother knew that he’d been burnt. His arm had been badly burnt, particularly around the elbow. They rushed him to the nearest hospital, but the surgery didn’t go well. “The doctor made everything worse.” His father is visibly angry when he tells us this. His wife squeezes his hand to comfort him.

A helping hand

Bassel was referred to INARA by Caritas. We arranged an appointment at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) and doctors told us that Bassel would need two surgeries to restore full functionality to his arm. The first would be to place a balloon under his skin to stretch it out. Doctors will then use this for a skin graft surgery on his elbow, ensuring the young boy can use his elbow properly again.

Bassel INARA Syrian refugee child Arwa Damon identical twin

Bassel has changed a lot since the accident. “He was active and he used to loved playing with his siblings. These days he barely speaks.” Bassel is an identical twin, and clings to his brother the whole time at his appointments. He clearly draws strength from having his twin next to him.

His parents hope that after this operation their son will be able to lead a normal life again. “I just want him to get better and feel better about himself. I want him to go to school and be a good and caring person.”

UNICEF contributed to Bassel's treatment.