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Press | Bankrupt Lebanon blames Syrian refugees

Khadra shares a meal with her daughter-in-law and nephew inside the one-room tent that shelters her and nine other family members; Credit: UNHCR/Joelle Abou Chabke

Dalal Albazri writes in The New Arab about how officials and a large segment of the people in Lebanon blame the Syrian refugees for their country’s economic collapse and bankruptcy.

In her Opinion article published on March 30, Albazri states that Lebanon was in reality benefiting from the presence of the Syrian refugees in that “inconclusive figures that monitored international aid to them exceed three billion dollars, in addition to operating telecommunications companies, bakeries and thousands of establishments looking for cheap manpower from the black market.”

the number of refugees willing to return to Syria is very small because they know that Bashar Assad will make their lives worse when they return

Dalal Albazri

Albazri goes on to say that recently there was a campaign to send those refugees back to Syria which resulted in the return of only 22,000 out of about one million, according to the United Nations. Albazri emphasizes that the number of refugees willing to return to Syria is very small because they know that Bashar Assad will make their lives worse when they return, even after originally destroying their homes, burning their fields, and throwing barrel bombs at them.

But the situation is different now than it was when Syrians flooded the border seeking refuge from the brutality of the Assad regime. Lebanon is going bankrupt while the war on Ukraine freezes the few aid supplies sent to Syrian refugees, “most of which was stolen” anyways Albazri points out.

So “Who is responsible for the poverty that has afflicted the Lebanese?” asks Albazri, and answers in a satirical manner: “Syrian refugees, of course!”

Albazri cites two anti-refugee propaganda incidents that went viral on Lebanese social media. The aim of these fabricated campaigns was to build up an atmosphere of hate towards Syrian refugees as being the ones exhausting the Lebanese economy.

Even those less unjust than others admit that Syrian refugees are not the whole problem, but part of it, but they are the easiest to solve, so “let’s start with them.”

The solution is not easy at all as the one who brought them to Lebanon by force was Bashar Assad and his Iranian partner, the Hezbollah militia, and this party expelled the Syrian people and occupied their homes, AlBazri stresses.

Syrian refugees living in tents in Lebanon are “subjected to periodic or sudden violent security campaigns, always in search of a non-existent ‘weapon’, or any other pretex”

Dalal Albazri

Hezbollah is staying in Syria for “expansion, hegemony over new territory, and creating what geostrategists call a ‘vital space.’ This is a phrase invented by Hitler, and it means occupying the lands of others to move the German economic wheel at the time.”

Meanwhile, Syrian refugees living in tents in Lebanon are “subjected to periodic or sudden violent security campaigns, always in search of a non-existent ‘weapon’, or any other pretext, and when a crime is committed, the first accused will be a Syrian refugee. And this is followed by a collective punishment.”

Albazri concludes her article by emphasizing that there is something more dangerous than economic bankruptcy: It is fundamental moral bankruptcy.

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