A report recently came out about Lebanese villagers imposing a curfew on Syrian refugees. As is the case in many rural towns, locals felt overwhelmed by the massive influx of new inhabitants and utter lack of state policing or coordination. It’s a well written piece and the latest in a series that have been published on the topic.
I think it’s great that these abuses are being highlighted, but it’s also important to remember that there are thousands of Lebanese that have been sheltering, feeding and supporting Syrian refugees, including dozens of local NGOs, private businesses and individual donations.
It’s contributions like this that have allowed organizations to provide thousands of free meals per day, like at this public park in Beirut:
I personally know of at least two families that have given up homes to house refugee families. Meanwhile schools across the country have either opened their doors to Syrian students or have been actively involved in collecting humanitarian aid on their behalf.
These stories don’t get as much coverage as sporadic acts of violence, which can lead to a skewed media narrative that paints the entire country as a xenophobic mob.
Of course all societies struggle with racism and discrimination. But when telling this story in Lebanon, a detail often missing in the coverage is that this country is already impoverished with little in terms of a central government to cope with absorbing a refugee influx that is more than a quarter of its population size and growing fast.