Syria: “Our hope is our weapon. Hope to live again”
Lebanon: “The crisis is threatening the existence of Lebanon”
There are currently 2.5 million Syrian refugees in the region and 6.5 million displaced persons in Syria. On the 3rd of April, at the UNHCR registration camp at Lebanon, the millionth Syrian refugee was registered. Those are however the registered individuals. Many people fear of registering with the UN as some of the names have reached the authority or they can be afraid to be recognised as a refugee as Lebanon is part of the regime and is considered not safe. Before you continue reading this post, please know that due to this civil war, there are no winners whether the Lebanese citizens or the Syrian refugees. Both of them are the losers due to a war dictated by regional and super powers. The Syrian grounds are currently used as a proxy war for a new rising cold war that does not only involve Russia and the US but also involves other emerging countries.
As always, in wars there are the elites who keep benefitting whether through the black market and trafficking of people or the lobbyists who keep guiding the path of the war. However, at the end of the day, the only losers are the majority, the citizens whether it is a man or a woman or a child or even an animal. They all lose everything and live off hope to see another day and another meal with no humiliation or anyone close to them passing away.
As stated by the head of the UNHCR, Lebanon now has the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide. Syrian refugees will overtake Afghans for being the highest refugee population in the world. Shatila and Sabra are two cities in Lebanon that have been home for Palestinian refugees and now they are welcoming the Syrian refugees. Yet, as the Lebanese government did not build camps for them, they have been going around trying to find their own accommodation, jobs and food. Nevertheless, the refugees are dying of starvation, high rent prices, unemployment, racism, salty water and living with rats. On the other hand, the Lebanese citizens are stating that the Syrian refugees are exploiting their resources, straining the economy and taxing the government.
The influx has overwhelmed public services and has brought along the fear of transferring this political and sectarian instability to Lebanon. Several areas have already been in disputes as they are supporting the regime and the others are against. This has caused civilians to lose their lives or injured as it crosses borders and brings grief to a larger population than the Syrian. In addition, the social capital is failing to structure itself. Half of the refugees’ population is under the age of 18 and only one fourth of the 400,000 are able to attend school. This is creating a long term negative impact that will increase the rate of crime, terrorists, illiteracy and poverty.
Lebanon is such a small country with limited resources and it already welcomes Syrian and Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. In order to cover the costs of the crisis, $1.8 billion is needed to be raised by the Lebanese government, United Nations and the other aid agencies. Unfortunately, 1/4th of the cost is not even funded.
We, the youth, are the future leaders and lobbyists. We need to change the world and not become submissive to our condition that our leaders have put us through. We are the Millennials, the tech savvy and innovative generation. With our limited resources and abilities, let’s lend a helping hand and bring this crisis to an end. At the end of the day, we are the majority and they are the minorities.
Suzan Shedid (Dubai Campus)