News / Middle East

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Expect More International Aid

Syrian refugee children sit inside their tent at a small refugee camp, in Ketermaya village southeast of Beirut, Lebanon, March 14, 2013.Syrian refugee children sit inside their tent at a small refugee camp, in Ketermaya village southeast of Beirut, Lebanon, March 14, 2013.
x
Syrian refugee children sit inside their tent at a small refugee camp, in Ketermaya village southeast of Beirut, Lebanon, March 14, 2013.
Syrian refugee children sit inside their tent at a small refugee camp, in Ketermaya village southeast of Beirut, Lebanon, March 14, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
— Aid workers in Lebanon say they lack resources to cope with the swelling tide of refugees from Syria. Resentment is rising among many of these refugees now living destitute in Lebanon, since they expect more help from the international community. There also is growing anger among Lebanese who feel the influx of Syrians is threatening their jobs and the national economy.

Workers for the Lebanese aid group Ishraq al-Nour, funded by Islamic Relief in Britain and other charities, fear a possible "humanitarian disaster" in Lebanon when the battle for Damascus intensifies between Syrian rebels and government troops.

The aid workers say they cannot meet the needs of Syrians who already have fled to Lebanon, and they will be overwhelmed by any major new surge in refugees.

Anger is mounting among the refugees themselves, who are short of food and cannot find work. Lebanon's economy is distressed by the Syrian civil war and the lingering effects of recession. Tourism, a mainstay of the economy, has dropped off significantly and jobs are in short supply.

  • A boy shields himself from the rain at a refugee camp in Tyre, southern Lebanon, Jan. 31, 2013.
  • A Syrian refugee carries her sister in Ketermaya village southeast of Beirut, Lebanon, March 14, 2013.
  • Syrian refugees make their way through a flooded temporary camp in Al-Faour, Lebanon, near the border with Syria.
  • Syrian boys look outside their tent in Marj, Lebanon.
  • Refugees at a temporary camp in Marj, Lebanon, Jan. 7, 2013.
  • A Syrian refugee washes dishes at a camp in Tyre, Lebanon, Jan. 31, 2013.
  • Syrian children play with toy weapons at a refugee camp in the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon, Oct. 27, 2012 during the Eid Al-Adha holiday.
  • Refugees register their names after their arrival at the Al Zaatri refugee camp near the border with Syria, March 6, 2013.
  • A refugee receives blankets and aid from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at Baddawi camp in northern Lebanon, Oct. 4, 2012.
  • Syrian refugee children inside their tent at a small camp in Ketermaya village, Lebanon, March 14, 2013.
  • A Syrian refugee sits with her daughters where they are staying temporarily with their relatives in Wadi Khaled town, Lebanon, July 24, 2012.

Growing issue

The United Nations says it has registered about 400,000 Syrians as refugees in Lebanon, but the Beirut government suspects there are many others - at least 200,000 and possibly as many as a half-million refugees who are not registered.

Those numbers contrast with Lebanon's entire population, which numbers about 4 million people.

Syrian Abed Razzak Khali fled to Lebanon from the suburbs of Damascus. A 35-year-old father of two young children, he cannot understand why his family is not getting more assistance. He gestured toward his 1-year-old daughter.
 
"When it comes to me I can be patient," he said. "I can wait. But this girl cannot wait for food. Okay, they bring us something, but what we need is much more. It is very hard."
 
Sitting in his tent at a camp in the Bekaa Valley, Khali said bitterly that he does not believe the aid agencies are doing all they can.

Khali said his tent and those around him were supplied by aid groups, "the NGOs" [nongovernmental organizations].

He added that "of course" those groups have additional resources "to cover the needs of the people, but it is not happening."

Omar Abdul Rahman of Ishraq al-Nour said aid workers were helping 265 refugee families a few months ago in the area around Bar Elias.  Now, he says, more than 3,000 Syrian families there are seeking food, shelter and other assistance.

Abdul Rahman said resentment is rising among Lebanese, even those who initially reached out to help the Syrians. "Things changed later because of the big numbers of refugees who came here," he says. "Even the way [Lebanese] people look at them and treat them has changed."

Abdel Rahman explained that because the Lebanese have an economic crisis and many of them are jobless, over time they have had less to share with the Syrians. He said refugees even "began to replace Lebanese workers in some jobs because they were willing to take lower salaries."

Intermittent support

The aid worker said international aid is erratic. Donations arrive for a month, then "skip two or three months."

Lebanese politicians also fear the Sunni Muslims arriving from Syria could provoke a backlash from Lebanese Shi'ites and undermine the country's fragile multi-communal society.

Sunni Muslims make up the majority of those fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect, which has its roots in Shia Islam.

The Lebanese army already has had to break up clashes between Lebanese Sunni gunmen loyal to the Syrian rebels and pro-Assad Alawites or Shi'ites.

The U.N. high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, warned last month that the Syrian crisis is an "existential threat" to Lebanon, and he called for greater international support for the fragile state.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid