A Decade Of Instability For Syrian Refugees In Lebanon

2021-02-18   |   by CusiGO

“What should I do? Do I buy food for my children, study online, stress medicine for my wife or epilepsy medicine for my daughter? “A desperate Abu fahan, the father of seven, a 62 year old Syrian refugee, was interrogated by WhatsApp during the conversation. Ten years ago, they came to an informal settlement in the town of baelias in the Bekaa Valley East of Beirut, Lebanon. They fled the war in Syria and eventually suffered instability in Lebanon. For 15 months, the country has been in a triple political, social, economic and health crisis. The United Nations estimates that 865000 Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, while the government estimates that the number is 1.5 million. According to the data of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees, the proportion of refugees in Mediterranean countries is higher than that of their own population (4.5 million).

Fahan used to be a farmer. Every morning he used to support his family with meager resources, but he couldn’t find the answer. The epidemic is the least of its ills, because strict restrictions – no social cost – exacerbate the economic crisis. If that continues, he quips, “we have more funerals for the hungry and the chronically ill than for covid-19.”

As food prices soared to 174%, the Lebanon pound fell 80% against the US dollar. “Before the crisis, our monthly income was between 330 and 600 euros. “Now, we have only 200 people left,” Farhan continued, not knowing where to go for help. The labour market and solidarity networks have been severely disrupted, resulting in half of the population living below the poverty line and nine out of ten Syrian refugees living in abject poverty.

The Farhan family lives on the money earned by their three sons during their rural or working days, food boxes distributed by non-governmental organizations and necessary financial assistance provided by the United Nations. They live in the Bekaa region in Eastern Lebanon, bordering Syria, where 40% of Syrian refugees live. The reduction of aid and hyperinflation have left them helpless.

The crisis has also hit Syrian refugees who are not dependent on humanitarian aid. “If I return to Syria, they will arrest me for treason. Lebanon has no future and I no longer dream of resettling in Europe. ” That’s how Bader, a 25-year-old Syrian, summed up his choice. He worked in a hotel in the city of ZAL in the Bekaa Valley for seven years. His salary plummeted from 700 to 100 a month, changing the streets informally, and he immediately moved to Damascus: he could no longer send money to his family to make ends meet.

The young man felt “trapped, with no future or past” and worried that the shortage of employment opportunities would exacerbate social tensions between the people of Lebanon and refugees. In Lebanon’s cities, signs of economic deterioration can be seen at every traffic light, where more and more small Syrians are gathering to attack rare drivers on the road in the form of street vendors.

It is difficult for the living refugees to get there before the end of this month, but it is not easy for the dead to find a decent grave. “The problems faced by living Syrian refugees can also lead to death,” Sheikh Baker al rifai reflected in the living room of his home in Baalbek, Lebanon. The city will soon open a second 7000 square meter cemetery to replace the previous one that collapsed as a result of the pandemic. Coronavirus adds pressure to cemeteries in Lebanon, where Syrian deaths are usually not accepted before or during the epidemic. Mufti said they were. “This may be a problem in Syria’s large population, so the best solution is to set up camps for them,” continued Sheikh al rifai, the Bekaa representative of DAR al fatwa, a Muslim institution that manages the legal affairs of Sunnis in the country, including Syrians, Most of them belong to this confession.

According to the Ministry of health in Lebanon, the spread of coronavirus has overcrowded hospitals and cemeteries in the country, with more than 340000 positive cases and more than 4000 deaths. Although coronavirus accounts for a quarter of the total population, the United Nations has only recorded 2704 infections and 119 deaths among Syrian refugees. In the most crowded cities, such as Beirut or Tripoli, the cost of a tomb can range from 200 to 500 euros. Today, it’s equivalent to half a year’s income for Syrian soldiers. “Here, Syrians don’t pay for land or funerals, so some refugees come from other areas to bury their families,” said Bassel huyeiri, mayor of alsar, a town in Lebanon with a view of the Syrian mountains. Of a population of 100000, there are two Syrians on the streets of every Lebanese.

In alsar, the abral cemetery provided shelter for Syria’s first grave in 2015, when Lebanon’s neighbors offered a piece of land to refugees. Abdel Karim zaarour, head of the Spanish NGO project in urda, explained that the latest excavation was for Hamza last week. Hamza is a “heart attack patient in his 30s” and has no slate yet. He is providing food, health care, education and protection to more than 5000 Syrian refugee families in the refugee camp in Lebanon. Fund the funeral home in this camp. In a lustero, about 700 graves fill half of the cemetery.

Where the families of Palestine and Abu fahan live, another Sunni chief has also given up some land so that Syrians can bury their people with dignity. The decision was made at the Tel sarhum cemetery reserved for the Lebanese, where some refugees dug several tombs at night, including a one meter tomb with a baby blanket on it. Despite the crisis and the epidemic, the life cycle is still part of the Syrian refugee community: in 10 years, 190000 newborns have been welcomed, and by 2018, 9000 of them have died, according to the office.