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.
x
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.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More