The Uncontrolled Influx of Syrian Refugees to Lebanon Must Stop

It’s very easy to be taken by enticing principles about humanitarian needs to keep allowing Syrian refugees uncontrolled entry to Lebanon.

It’s very easy to get angry at anyone asking that the influx of Syrian refugees into the country be stopped or controlled. How could you? The Syrians helped us in 2006. The Syrians are being murdered by their own regime in the thousands.

As if we don’t know.

This is not about Gebran Bassil’s recent “remarks.” This is about the people.

In the region of Bab el Tebbaneh in Northern Lebanon, a few tens of thousands of Lebanese live in stinking conditions – even worse than the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon’s 12 camps. Are those Lebanese not living in non-humanitarian conditions as well? Shouldn’t those Lebanese be more important to us than anyone else, especially if we were to allocate non-existent resources to better life conditions?

Further north from Bab el Tebbaneh is Akkar, a region that few of us want to even include in Lebanon. Akkar has a lot of Syrian refugees living in horrible conditions. It also has many more Lebanese living in worse conditions. When the Lebanese state has washed its hands of its own people, what can we expect regarding people whose strife the Lebanese government has also washed its hands of?

The most recent numbers regarding Syrian refugees are troubling – 190,000 that include 15,000 Palestinian, adding to Lebanon’s existent population of almost 500,000 Palestinian refugees. I won’t go on and on about demographic changes and naturalization talk because they are 1) irrelevant and 2) not going to happen. Ever.

What needs to be talked about is our ability as a country which can’t take care of its own people to handle almost 700,000 refugees, 190,000 of which are very recent.

The answer is a succinct and quite honest: no way.

Lebanon’s ruling class either talks about closing off an undemarcated border – good luck with that – or about keeping our non-controlled borders in their regular state. They talk about the refugee situation ruining our elections and our society fabric. Frankly, I don’t think they have a clue what they’re talking about. My point of view is not that of Lebanon’s current ruling class which exudes racism with every single word spoken, it is that of one who thinks the families of those refugees deserve better.

Lebanon does not have the ability to handle the Syrian refugees entering its land. We don’t have the ability to give them a better life than the one in their country. We don’t have the ability to keep them safe against families that would kidnap them for negotiation purposes. We don’t have the ability to keep them safe from impeding storms and blizzards that are about to hit our country. We don’t have the ability to ensure their humanitarian rights in any way whatsoever.

So what’s the point?

Do we keep bringing in Syrian refugees into the country to let them die of the cold here? To let them die of thirst here? To let them die of hunger here?

Why are we the only country in the region where the regulation of refugees has to be an obscenely shocking manner while Jordan and Iraq have either shut off their borders completely or regulated the influx into their land? It seems we are the only country who must have everything turn into a controversy.

The Syrian refugees need to stop coming into Lebanon for their own good because we, as a country, will slowly kill them. The solution for the Syrian refugees is for other countries in the region that have no problem shoving Arabism down our throats to man up and host refugees as well – countries which have the resources to build camps and compounds, provide the refugees with shelter and food. I’m looking at the countries of the Gulf, those countries which can’t wait but “stand by their Muslim brothers and sisters” by speech only.

This is not a utopia as some of Lebanon’s politicians want you to believe. We don’t live in a country that can swell to accommodate whichever numbers you throw into it. We are a country that can’t take care of its own people. We are a country that can’t apply the basic laws that should be there to regulate our own lives. We are a country that can’t possibly host refugees. We are a country that’s slowly killing the refugees in it because there’s really nothing else we can do. Do you really want to bring more people in need to our toxic environment?

It is here that I remember the Syrian woman and her two children who died of the cold in Hamra, one of Beirut’s classier districts, a couple of months ago. May they – and all the Syrian refugees dying like them – rest in peace.

20 thoughts on “The Uncontrolled Influx of Syrian Refugees to Lebanon Must Stop

  1. The region looks to be lacking a pan-Arabic moral responsibility while Qatar proceeds with its $144 billion construction plan for holding the Word Cup. Too bad they can’t apply a little of that climate control to people in genuine need.


  2. Thing is, the gulf is far, syrians cannot be transported into the gulf by plane, one by one. Also, Qatar does not represent the whole gulf. And, coutries like Oman, the Sultan I mean, gives alot to Syria, he helped many of the countries affected by the arab spring.So lets not generalize too much.
    I think the Lebanese Government wants to be proud of something: its all just an egocentric game , like, “Wow how nice of Lebanon to be letting in 190 000 refugees” …

    PS; I’m lebanese, Im not from the gulf but i spent 10 years of my life there, so don’t get all angry at me, i’m just giving an opinion.


    • They can be transported from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq – the countries which are hosting them. I’m fairly certain if Gulf countries (not just Qatar) wanted to help in the matter, they could.

      In this case, we’re not just talking about Qatar but about Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and to a lesser extent Bahrain as well.


      • Dude forget it, dubai is more concerned with the highest stupid tower (it looks so stupid i swear), the rest with their own shnitzel. No ones bothered anymore, not only in the arab countries, but in the whole world. Sad but true :/


  3. So basically 15% of the people in the country are refugees. That’s insane. Even Turkey said they have trouble with absorbing all the refugees, and they are probably the most capable neighbor to do so.


  4. I think you are underestimating the amount of money pouring in from international humanitarian organizations to help the Syrian refugees. The state does not take care of the refugees, international humanitarian organizations do and many times fail terribly at it.

    At the end of the day, this is not at all about the “poor Lebanese”, you’re right about that, but it was never about that, with or without the influx of refugees. In other words, if you stop the influx, nothing is going to change for the poor Lebanese that the state cares nothing about. So in a way, this is a debate not about the political economy of Lebanon itself but of that of the politicians’ pockets. This is why Siniora is asking to make Lebanon an “aid country” so that more money would pour in. And this is why Bassil is freaking out in a very racist way about Syrians and Palestinians, because he doesnt get any money out of this.

    There is also a major difference between stopping the influx of refugees and coordinating their entry with other countries. Closing the borders = racism. Making an initiative with other countries (Turkey, Jordan, etc.) to allow for a better and more humane flow of the refugees = okay 🙂


    • I don’t think we can close the border. The border with Syria is about 375km long. It’s not even demarcated. Closing controlled checkpoints won’t make a dent in the influx of refugees.

      We haven’t received any numbers regarding aid coming into the country for the refugees. But I don’t think it’s that substantial. After all, most countries around the world are now involved politically in the conflict more than humanitarianly, no? Meaning they all want to either keep Bashar or topple him. But few actually care about the bloodshed and the people fleeing their homes.

      I’m personally not against the refugees being here. But as a country, we really can’t handle any more refugees. We don’t have the abilities nor the space to host them, politicians be damned obviously.


      • there is a lot of humanitarian money (UN, MSF, IMC, etc) though, you can get data via newspapers or their websites. tons of money.
        So I still think that arguing that the state/country cant handle anymore refugee is flawed, because Lebanon has never mobilized any resource to aid any refugee, the UN and other NGOs have always done that with Palestinians, Iraqis and Syrian refugees. The ministry of social affairs coordinate with its centers about refugees once it is funded by the UN.


        • Well when more able countries (such as Turkey) admit they are having trouble with refugee numbers much less than ours, I think that’s telling enough that as a country we have gone past the saturation point.


  5. Pingback: The Lebanese Anti-Syrian “Racism” | A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

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