Akram Bunni

The Ordeal of Syrian Asylum in Lebanon!

The tears in his eyes didn’t conceal his anger and resentment of the humiliation he felt when the owner of a Lebanese bakery refused to sell him bread because he is Syrian. He raised his head, and looked at his sister, who asked him again: “returning where? Are you insane? Yes, life here is awful, but you know that staying here is less bad. You also know that many Lebanese sympathize with us and help us in hard times.”

The aggravating fear among Syrian refugees is understandable, not only from cold and heat, or from the decreasing aids and worsening life conditions in the camps and the wasted future of many of their children, but also from the changing stances in the communities that have hosted them.

Understandable is the bitterness and oppression the Syrian refugees have been feeling because of the rejection and aggression shown by some Lebanese groups, who have treated them inhumanly. However, what can never be tolerated is supporting a hashtag against Syrians on Twitter, and the incitement practiced by Michel Aoun, head of the highest authority in the country and the ‘strategic’ ally of Hezbollah, on kicking the refugees out from Lebanon, in addition to Hezbollah’s direct intervention in the Syrian, bloody conflict.

The largest group of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon belong to a “sect” haunted by the curse of terrorism, and accused of every attack implemented by ISIS or Al Nusra on the Lebanese territories, which has significantly contributed to creating a social and mental environment that refuses their existence, in addition to the growing pressures practiced on them by political and economic parties and security bodies, that seek normalization with the Syrian regime.

When he returned angry from the bakery, he admitted to his sister that he is willing to enroll his name with those willing to come back to Syria. “They are hundreds, and they were reassured that they won’t be hurt or arrested,” he told himself in a motivating tone. Then, he asked his sister: “Why are we scared? Haven’t we left the country while we were 10 and 9 years old? Were we aware of what was going around us or do we hold any responsibility for it?”

“Our stalkers are many, and the spies of the Syrian regime here must have sent tens of reports about our life and stances. What fate could be waiting for us if someone reported our hatred of the regime, or our support of the opposition? Do I have to remind you every time you think of returning, of what happened to your friend Ahmed who left Syria when he was 10, too? Does anyone know anything about him, his father and brother a year after they returned there? Isn’t his mother looking for them in every security department,” the sister replies with a decisive tone.

“Where are these hundreds willing to come back? The Lebanese authorities themselves admitted that the number didn’t exceed tens of people. Do you want to leave me alone here? You know I’ll never return to that hell, where I have to smile every day at those who buried my parents and sister under the rubble. Where would we live? How do we recover our family’s properties? Didn’t they ruin and burn our house and seize our land? Didn’t they threaten your uncle Khaled with prison and killing if he thinks of claiming his house and lands again?” she added.

It’s not a secret that confiscating houses and properties has become a norm among the leaders of the “big triumph” in Syria, and that anyone who thinks of claiming his possessions and properties could face the direst fate, especially in the regions that lived under long siege.

But the most dangerous thing is the hidden intentions of some “sectarian” groups planning to put their hands on towns and neighborhoods that have religious and security significance to establish a homogenous population of the “sectarian” kind that helps them tighten their control.

The sister felt that her conversation was useless, and that her brother is still considering the return. “Have you thought of the circumstances in Syria? How can we provide our simplest needs? Have you forgotten the famine our people are living in? They can’t even provide food, clothes, and heating, there are no jobs, and the aids are being stolen. Have you forgotten the stories about abuse and humiliation of people, about innocent citizens who were attacked, humiliated, and blackmailed, even hurt and killed, for the silliest reasons and the perpetrators who have never been held accountable” she continued.

The regime is responsible for the worsening crisis of refugees, and it would never change its hostile stance, and its explicit exclusion of them from its homogenous society. The Syrian opposition also has a negative role in this matter, as it hasn’t been able to create healthy channels for communication and solidarity with the refugees, maybe because it sees them as a secondary matter that comes after the military and political priorities.

We must also keep in mind that Syrian refugees are influenced by the divisions in Lebanon between two political factions with opposing views about the regime, as well as the remarkable decrease in aid and grants allocated to protect the refugees and empower them. All these factors give us a glance of the options those refugees have in Lebanon.

The suffering of Syrian refugees, their degraded life conditions, the growing humiliation and abuse they are facing, can be classified as a human disaster. But when we look at the causes and results of the crisis, we see a political matter.

In other words, it’s imperative to take care of those refugees and pressure towards meeting their human needs, but it’s not sufficient, as long as there are no political efforts to put an end to the Syrian conflict, kick out foreign forces, and address the ongoing conflict in accordance with the UN Resolution number 2254, calling for imposing a solution that meets the expectations and protect the rights of Syrians, and provide the security, political, and economic conditions that motivate millions of Syrians to return to their homeland.