Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Syrians in Lebanon

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Syrians in Lebanon refers to the Syrian migrant workers and more recently to the Syrian refugees who fled to Lebanon during the Syrian Civil War.

Contents

Background

Following the end of the twenty-nine years of Syrian occupation of Lebanon in 2005, many Syrians have been immigrating to Lebanon in search of work and a better life. These workers were treated with disrespect from both the Lebanese people and the country’s government. However, as a result of the civil war in Syria between the government of President Bashar al‑Assad and rebel groups, refugees have been entering Lebanon by the thousands. This influx of refugees has resulted in the overpopulation of the camps and cities and rising tensions between the Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees.

Numbers of Syrian refugees

According to the UNHCR, there were over 1 million Syrian refugees who had been registered in Lebanon in 2016. Nevertheless, this figure is likely largely underestimated since the UNHCR has stopped registering new Syrian refugees since May 2015 and it doesn't include individuals awaiting to be registered. Hence, precise figures of the number of Syrian people in Lebanon don't exist currently. Recent estimates were as high as 1,500,000 people.

In October 2015 the Syrian independent newspaper Zaman Al Wasl reported that 125,000 to 150,000 Syrian Turkmen refugees arrived in Lebanon, and hence they now outnumber the Turkish minority of Lebanon.

Difficulties

The Lebanese government has historically maintained an open door policy towards Syrian refugees; however, the UNHCR states that the Lebanese government has never signed the 1951 Refugee Convention which secures a refugee who belongs “to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” Therefore, there exists no international laws which Lebanon must follow in dealing with the refugees this has included the government of Lebanon not building any refugee camps. The refugees who are capable of working must compete with the poor of Lebanon for the country's lowest paying jobs to get work and make money, which has resulted in damage to Lebanon’s economic infrastructure. The children of Syrian refugees must attend schools, which are already crowded with Lebanese children.

Tensions between the Lebanese and the Refugees

As the numbers of Syrians in Lebanon have grown, so have tensions; according to one Syrian refugee “When I first arrived, Lebanese people were very hospitable to me. They treated me like a refugee, like someone who needed protection and had fled from the war. Now, they treat me as if I am a security threat.” The influx of Syrians into Lebanon has resulted in economic, political, social and religious tensions in Lebanon. Curfews have been put into place in some cities and villages to ensure public safety following attacks on police and members of the military by religious Syrian extremist groups. Many Lebanese citizens fear that there is a possibility of Syrian Civil War spillover in Lebanon, especially after Syrian Sunni Muslim extremist groups executed of Lebanese soldiers in August 2014 as part of the Battle of Arsal.

References

Syrians in Lebanon Wikipedia


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