News / Middle East

For Syrian Refugee Family, a Return to War

Homeless Syrian refugees rest by the side of a road in Beirut, July 22, 2013.Homeless Syrian refugees rest by the side of a road in Beirut, July 22, 2013.
Homeless Syrian refugees rest by the side of a road in Beirut, July 22, 2013.
Homeless Syrian refugees rest by the side of a road in Beirut, July 22, 2013.
Heather Murdock
In a sparse apartment with a distant view of the Mediterranean, seven-year-old Mohammad describes his life in Syria of just a few months ago: A bomb went off near his father’s store; snipers shot people on the roads; his uncle was killed on his way to buy a sandwich.
"Lebanon is not as scary as Syria, but it’s not as good as home," he says, explaining that he doesn’t go to school here, and he doesn’t go out to play.
"Playing was before the war, when everyone was happy," he says.
Syrian families have been fleeing civil war for more than two years, and it’s never been more dangerous than now. But despite his family's fear of returning, Mohammad's parents are preparing to drive back across the border within hours.
For them, both the financial and emotional costs of living as refugees in Beirut has too much to bear, and they are packing their bags despite imminent threats of U.S. military strikes against the Syrian regime for an August 21 poison-gas attack near Damascus that killed nearly 1,500 people, including more than 400 children.
“The life here in Lebanon, it’s very expensive, and my husband is so tired in his job," says Mohammad's mother, Lina. With their rent paid only through the end of August, she says, they simply cannot afford another month, which means they simply have no choice.
Down the road in the garden of a posh café, Lina’s husband, Chadi, serves nargila, a sweet tobacco pipe known as shisha in Egypt and hookah in other parts of the world.
Poverty, he says, is one of the many reasons he is taking his family home despite the danger.
"Besides financial troubles, I can no longer stand being treated like an outsider," he says, weeping as he explains the situation. "If he is going to die, I want to die at home with family."
Ever since the mid-1970s when the Syrian military established a presence in Lebanon, isolation has a common complaint among Syrians living here. Many Lebanese still resent the occupation, and it colors their attitude toward Syrians in general.
Lebanon, a country of less than 5 million people, has also been straining to keep up with the influx of civil-war refugees, now numbering over 700,000 men, women and children.
While Chadi and his family know there is a very real possibility of personal catastrophe upon returning to Syria, the strain of living as refugees in this increasingly unstable country is far worse.
Chadi feels that a U.S. strike against Syria would be a good thing. He knows that innocent people might die, but he thinks such direct action could be move toward ending Syria's civil war.
The United States and other world powers have called repeatedly on all sides in the Syrian conflict to end their war. U.S. President Barack Obama and top officials of his administration have said any action military against Syria that may take occur is not aimed at ending the war or ousting the Assad regime. According to U.S. officials, Washington is considering limited strikes aimed specifically at Syrian government forces and resources in order to punish those responsible for the recent chemical attacks and to deter any future use of such illegal weapons.
Before the war in Syria began in 2011, Chadi says, it was possible to live happily in Assad-ruled Syria. But nowadays, as he puts it, they are killing people on the streets.
He says he doesn’t care at all who wins this war. He just wants the fighting to stop so he can go home again.

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Comment Sorting
by: rosas from: malaysia
September 02, 2013 11:57 AM
The prolong systemic evaporation of trust amongst Arab leaders holding political or religious authority has breed disintegration of amongst Arab nation. Arabism philosophy is highly carcinogenic as stated in Quran 9:97. Arabism has tarnished the dignity of Deenul-Islam & the dignity of muslim Ummah. Arabism is dragging middle east countries heading towards the 3rd law of thermodynamics. ARAB NATION AT RISK

by: ABWH from: MOROCO
September 02, 2013 9:23 AM
Who's the responsible for this human catastrophe?

by: Anonymous
September 02, 2013 5:58 AM
It's American hypocrisy at its finest!
Foreign Policy Magazine AUGUST 26, 2013

CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran The U.S. knew Hussein was launching some of the worst chemical attacks in history -- and still gave him a hand. The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America's military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen, Foreign Policy has learned.

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

by: Lee from: Dali, China
September 01, 2013 9:37 PM
Our world needs peace, not war.

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