A New Horror Arises in Syrian Refugee Camps in Lebanon

Civil defence members and civilians put out fire at a camp for Syrian refugees near the town of Qab Elias, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, July 2, 2017. REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah

Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon are no picnic. Sanitation is dicey, illness lurks in every corner, and food and space are seriously lacking. The terms often associated with the camps are ‘squalid’, ‘overcrowded’ and ‘neglected’.

There’s a strong push from the Lebanese government to force the refugees back into Syria, the destruction of several camps, and crackdowns on the refugees, and they’re unwanted. Looking into Syria, it’s not safe enough to return home yet, so almost a third of Lebanon’s population is essentially ‘stateless.’

The government doesn’t recognize them, and to the populace, they’re faceless masses. In short, they’re ‘nobodies.’ No one will miss them if they disappear because no one will notice. That means they’re doubly vulnerable prey to traffickers. Triumphant Mercy’s Lebanon director, Nuna, says she was stunned to learn that for some of the refugees they’re helping, this is an issue.

Horror at a new challenge

First, she says, “Teachers started to come to me, and even parents started to say, ‘you have to have the van come inside the camp.’ Usually, we gather in front of the camp so we can pick them up and bring them to school.”

When she inquired further, “I started to hear stories of so many kids just waiting on the stairs of their home and some other car coming and trying to pick them up–things like that that are just repetitive now. It’s a new situation that we’re facing; I don’t know how to deal with this.”

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, R.B. Klama