ASIA/LEBANON - The President of Caritas Lebanon: hostility toward the Syrian refugees increases

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - "The effects of uncontrolled influx of Syrian refugees in Lebanon open a disturbing scenario. The concern has reached the warning level. Among the local population hostility towards refugees continues to grow, after arms were found in refugee camps. Everyone now sees refugees at the disposal of regional powers who want to destabilize Lebanon or dominate it, preventing it from having an independent policy". This is how the Maronite priest Paul Karam, President of Caritas Lebanon, describes to Fides Agency the climate that the Country of the Cedars is facing after what happened in the area of Arsal, where in recent days the army destroyed a refugee camp and arrested hundreds of people.
The operation, according to widespread reports by humanitarian organizations, was marred by violations and violent behavior of the army against refugees and also caused some victims.
During the initial stages of the operation, hundreds of men in the camp had staged a protest chanting slogans of support to the jihadists of the Islamic State.
The border between Syria and Lebanon was repeatedly crossed by the incursions of jihadist groups such as al-Nusra, that threaten to execute nine policemen and Lebanese soldiers held hostage in retaliation for the pro-Assad involvement of the Lebanese Shiite militia of Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict. Throughout the Bekaa Valley there is a growing climate of sectarian conflict.
"In some refugee camps - recalls Fr. Karam - weapons were found. Refugees are more than one million and one hundred thousand. Obviously the Church warns against the criminalization of refugees as such, but we record that this sentiment is growing among the population, we cannot deny it and we are not able to appease it. We are criticized for the help we give to refugees. It is natural to raise questions: why are Syrian refugees not checked at the entrance and during their stay like what happens in Jordan or Turkey? Why have Arabia and Qatar so far not received even a Syrian refugee?". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 01/10/2014)