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Lebanese for Syrian Refugees

February 11, 2014
A young Syrian girl walks over to see what is being delivered by Lebanese for Syrians she and her friends were pleased to see the portable toilets being dropped off. There was no toilets or any sort of bathroom facilities. Photo by Omar Alkalouti.

A young Syrian girl walks over to see what is being delivered by Lebanese for Syrians she and her friends were pleased to see the portable toilets being dropped off. There was no toilets or any sort of bathroom facilities. Photo by Omar Alkalouti.

It’s not difficult to find Lebanese who are angry with the number of Syrians that are here. There are many negative stories that have been reported on this since the Syrian civil war sent hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing across the border, looking for a better economy and safety. It’s a complicated issue for many Lebanese, as during the 30-year Syrian occupation, many lost family members, had family that was jailed or was ill-treated in some way. For many, it’s not easy to accept Syrians with open arms.

The influx of Syrians in Lebanon, who now account for over a quarter of Lebanon’s small population of four million, have been a major contributor to the destabilization of the country. The economy is struggling, jobs are being taken by Syrians who will work for much less, housing and living costs are on the rise and bombings have steadily increased over the past few months. As a result, predictably, tourism has taken a huge hit.

All of these factors result in some people being very frustrated and angry at the state of their country, some of whom blame it on the Syrians. It isn’t difficult to find a cabbie who will curse out a group of Syrians walking on the street, or some of the children who stand at stoplights, begging for a passerby to buy a pack of Chiclets or a pack of roses through the window. There was even a group of refugees living in one area that was burned to the ground. But for every negative story regarding Syrian-Lebanese relations, there are beautifully positive ones as well. People who are reaching out to help some that are desperately in need of it.

Lebanese for Syrian Refugees are some of those people. In its first week, the campaign raised over $40,000 and garnered thousands of “likes” on Facebook. The civil campaign was founded by a small group of Lebanese citizens in Beirut who wanted to bring awareness to refugee issues in the country. The Facebook page that was started became an avenue for Lebanese to donate and volunteer to refugees living in the border town of Arsal and the “no-man’s land” beyond Lebanese military borders where displaced Syrians are living in makeshift shelters.

According to Omar Alkalouti, the photographer who shot these photos, the organizer, Carol Maalouf, was overwhelmed to witness the amount of Lebanese willing to help the Syrian refugees. This help is necessary, as some of the people in the area where they are giving aid are living in barely habitable conditions, in an area directly affected by the Syrian war’s spillover – the area comes under frequent shelling from the Syrian side of the border. The majority of these refugees are from Qusair and Qalamoun, two areas that have seen heavy fighting between the opposition and government with pro-government forces in recent months.

Lebanese for Syrians, only one of other initiatives, such as “I AM NOT A TOURIST” that have started in the country in response to the need of the refugees, has done some incredible things. They have brought bathroom facilities, medical teams, basic necessities, medicine, blankets, gas. Further, on their Facebook page, you can see a timeline of the progress they are making medically with some of these refugees. One young boy, Talal, can hear his mother for the first time. Another boy, Saad, now has a prosthetic limb. People have even come from Japan to help.

Check out the photos. Like the page. Support people who are doing good to better the world around them.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Serene Yordi permalink
    February 12, 2014 12:40 pm

    Love it. Beautiful piece Ms. Melissa Tabeek.

  2. February 12, 2014 5:52 pm

    Wow. That top photo is so powerful, as are the rest of them in this post. Omar is gifted!

    It’s awesome to hear that a group of Lebanese are welcoming displaced Syrians. Hopefully it can bring some light into such a dark situation. Great post!

    • March 24, 2014 6:52 am

      Thanks, Sam. I’ll pass on the kind words 🙂 It’s an incredibly sad and terrible situation there..

  3. Alesia permalink
    February 12, 2014 9:03 pm

    Great post! Miss you!

    Alesia

    >

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