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.
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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs