“I am apprehensive about the situation of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.”
The aforementioned sentence is enough to get a baggage of racism be thrown on your shoulder by people who believe you are not allowed to address the refugee issue in any way whatsoever unless it is to say they are more than welcome here without anything affixed to that.
The recent surge against all those racist Lebanese comes after an online Annahar video which you can watch here:
The report is very poorly done. Are they seriously filming a ten year old and asking him what he thinks of the Syrian refugees in the country and taking what he said as relevant enough to actually be included?
The way many of the people in the above video formulated their opinion regarding the refugees is unacceptable. But what is also unacceptable is for others to say that the concerns these people tried to convey are 1) racist and 2) invalid. Because, you know, Lebanon is very new to refugees. Those Syrians are obviously the first people we host and their problems are so new we cannot even begin to think dealing with them because of their novelty factor.
It is not only normal to have concerns regarding the refugee situation in Lebanon, it is, in my opinion, the sane thing to do. We cannot keep pretending that 1,000,000 Syrians in the country (Or 300,000 according to UN) is a walk in the park, with no prospective effects and no current effects in any way.
If you mention the Lebanese people who lost their rented homes because their landlords got better offers from Syrians, you are racist. If you mention the jobs that skillful Syrian physicians, accountants, architects and whatnot took out of Lebanese people, you are racist. The list goes on. It is obviously not the Syrians’ fault but it is an effect that some people don’t want to allow us to discuss. Because racism, racism everywhere.
When does this categorization of Lebanese who are critical of the current situation stop?
On the other hand, the categorization against the Syrians is unacceptable as well. Our country’s problems are not dependent on them and them alone. Not feeling safe while walking on a street is not because of the Syrians but because Lebanon is not a safe country with or without them. You can read this story that a friend of mine had to go through while walking in Gemmayze (link). The economical situation in the country is less the fault of the refugees and more the fault of politicians who are perpetuating the current political instability.
The borders should not and will not be closed for they are non existent and it would be grossly inhumane. The Syrians don’t want to come here. They are forced to come here. There is no way to regulate their influx as I had said before (link). They are here knocking at our doors with a riffle in their backs. If we don’t let them in, they get shot. There is no Syrian civilian entry to Lebanon that is not an emergency. The only thing that we, as Lebanese, can do regarding the refugees is have discussions.
The Syrians hosted some of our people in 2006. Of course they did. And we are thankful. But them hosting us back then is akin to a billionaire giving a poor person $100 and asking him to be eternally grateful for that. They were able to handle the thousands of Lebanese that entered their territory for a period of about three weeks.
Lebanon, a country that can’t even handle someone like Ahmad el Assir or even the poverty of people in places like Bab el Tebbane and Akkar and the South, cannot handle one million extra person who need help.
It is a Lebanese’s right to be wary and worried and apprehensive. The way that worried Lebanese formulates his or her worry and apprehension may differ and it may be unacceptable but those who don’t feel this way are similar to an ostrich with its head so far down the sand it can’t even manage to get it out anymore.
Now cue in those will call me racist. They wish….