Editorial: The Lebanese are strangers in their homeland!
The wars in neighbouring countries and the enormous influx of Syrian displaced have had a serious effect on Lebanon’s economy and political stability. The Lebanese have not known in their history the movement of displacement as witnessed with the war in Syria, with more than 1.5 million displaced people distributed over Lebanon.
It is now up to the international community to step up and solve one of the country’s most pressing situations in recent times and to help return Syrian displaced safely to their homes. The importance and necessity of the return of Syrian refugees to their homes or to the safe areas must be encouraged and all aid can be sent to them in Syria.
The return of displaced Syrian refugees to safe places should not be linked to a political solution in Syria. Russia’s pledge of constant support in terms of facilitating the repatriation process should be acknowledged internationally as an example of goodwill while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country aims to establish a safe area in northern Syria to enable four million Syrians in his country to return.
President Aoun stresses that Lebanon seems to be destined to pay a high price for the attainment of regional peace. This difficult situation was underscored by the President of the Republic, Michel Aoun when he declared recently: “Lebanon is one of the countries that have borne the burden of the consequences of neighbouring wars and the influx of Syrian displaced. The displacement crisis continues to burden the country at the economic, security, social, educational and hospitalization levels”.
The country currently has the largest number of refugees per capita in the world, with one refugee per four Lebanese. The influx of Syrian displaced into Lebanon has created a serious problem not only for Lebanon but for the refugees themselves. The stress on Lebanon’s health and social services has been considerable and demands urgent and practical solutions. Crowded conditions in the camps favour the spreading of infections.
Although the Lebanese government and Lebanese people have shown considerable understanding and willingness to help, the problems created by the influx of refugees has reached a point that it has strained the relationship between the Syrians and the Lebanese and their governments.
About 60,000 Syrian children are born annually and and do not have Syrian identity. They will be the sole responsibility of the Lebanese state.
Lebanese Minister of Education and Higher Education Marwan Hamadeh revealed that there were 300,000 Lebanese students in public school and 250,000 Syrian counterparts.
Several NGOs have been providing assistance to the Syrian displaced. What is now needed is for the international community and the financial institutions to step up their efforts to help return Syrian displaced safely to their homes and keep Lebanon as the vibrant democracy that it is. The support will continue with Syrian refugees when they return to their homeland. Given the multiplicity of organizations channelling aid to the Syrian displaced, what is needed is more co-ordination among them, and for the foreign governments that participated in this war to step up their aid and give the displaced a future of hope for regaining a decent way of life. The Syrian war is a foreign disaster that should have never happened. If Lebanese officials do not appreciate the seriousness of the survival of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, then there will be reform and upheaval.
Editor in Chief