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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid