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Beirut explosion exacerbates the suffering of Syrian refugees in Lebanon

A Wall Street Journal report examines the impact of the Beirut explosion on more than a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The newspaper’s correspondent, Rajaa Abdul Rahim, pointed out to the suffering that befell the Syrian refugees after the explosion that destroyed most of the city center last month.

The accident resulted in the serious injury of the refugee, Abdul-Khaled Al-Obaid, with a fracture in his right thigh and other fractures in the body. The matter did not stop at this point, as the 27-year-old Al-Ubaid became unemployed and without a Lebanese employer to guarantee his residency, which expired shortly after. Even as he is now recovering from his injuries, the window-cleaner may eventually face deportation to the country he fled from 8 years ago.

“Where can I go now and find a new sponsor? And like the Syrians, when you lose your job, you lose everything, but I can’t go back to Syria … I can’t go back,” said Al-Obaid, who used to support his wife, young daughter and extended family.

The newspaper pointed out that the repercussions of the explosion deepened the misery of many Syrian refugees in the country and exacerbated the division between them and the Lebanese, some of whom increasingly blame Syrians for their country’s problems.

Although dozens of Syrians were killed, injured, or lost their property in the blast, they say they are being pushed back at aid distribution sites, and have been denied assistance in rebuilding damaged homes, and in some cases have been harassed because they assisted in cleaning and relief efforts after the explosion.

The newspaper stated that the Lebanese authorities deported thousands of Syrians in 2019 when it began to harass the illegal residents of the country, but the deportations have stopped since Lebanon closed the borders with Syria following the Corona epidemic.

Although they have been under pressure in Lebanon for a long time, their presence since the August 4 explosion has become increasingly unacceptable, which has made Syrian groups worried that the increase in discrimination could push Syrian refugees to return to their homeland despite the many risks they are not. They still face it there.

“If the electricity is cut off, they say because there are a million Syrians here. If food is scarce, they say because there are a million Syrians. And if there are no public schools, they say it is because of the Syrians,” comments Yasmine Sabra, a co-founder of the Basma and Zeitouna Charitable Association in Lebanon to help the Syrians. “Kasuri in Lebanon always feels that you are on the defensive,” she added.

The newspaper concluded that fear now possesses many Syrians in Lebanon. When charitable trucks come to distribute aid in a neighborhood, aid workers often say it is not for Syrians, so they turn away quietly to avoid trouble. “The explosion did not distinguish,” says one refugee, sighing. “But after the explosion we suffered discrimination.”

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