News / Middle East

Syrian Refugees Straining Lebanese Villages

Syrian refugee with her baby near the border town of Wadi Khaled, Lebanon, May 2012.
Syrian refugee with her baby near the border town of Wadi Khaled, Lebanon, May 2012.
Sixty-eight-year-old Motija tried for weeks to escape the bombs and bullets of the Syrian civil war. Like a million other Syrians, she eventually left her wrecked Damascus suburb for neighboring Lebanon, where she lives with nine relatives in a crowed three-room house.
 
Her situation isn't unusual. Fifty other Syrian refugee families inhabit the small Bekaa Valley village near the northeastern border town of Hermel, a largely Shia Muslim community along the Orontes river.
 
While local Lebanese have accommodated the refugees as the best they can, Haider, a village elder, calls them a burden.
 
“It is a financial strain for us because it is a small community and it is also considered a pure community," he says via interpreter. "Because most of the community here live as farmers and peasants, it is not easy for us to provide all this aid for refugee families.”
 
Wary of United Nations requests to build refugee camps, Lebanese authorities have allowed the Syrians to spread across the country’s 1,400 municipalities. While those who can pay to shelter themselves are targeting the more impoverished towns and villages where housing costs are cheaper, the trend is posing problems for some already-struggling locals.
 
Now anger is mounting as locals compete with Syrians for scarce jobs and housing, and there have been reports of violence.
 
Aiming to stem growing Lebanese resentment, the U.N. Refugee Agency is assisting towns and villages with housing and public infrastructure development. The so-called "quick-impact" projects, says UNHCR spokesperson Dana Sleiman, include aiding the construction of new waste management plants and libraries, along with local housing stock.
 
“We are trying to look at creative solutions, trying to help the hosting communities at the same time by renovating unfinished houses of Lebanese families and in return they would host Syrian families," says Sleiman, explaining that the agency's June 2013 funding appeal asked donors to focus on both refugee and host communities.
 
Of the $1.2 billion U.N. officials have requested for aid efforts in Lebanon, she says, more than $400 million is earmarked for infrastructure and security.
 
"This solution has been working but we are also looking at renovating collective shelters, abandoned structures," she says.
 
With the refugee crisis growing in scale, and donor countries already digging deep, the challenge is enormous.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Head: Breach Won't Happen Again

Julia Pierson tells a House panel investigating a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid