Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Undo the damage. A look at the (Syrian) refugees

At this point, I have crossed the 100th Syrian refugee family asking to rent the upper floor of my house. My answer from the get-go was no. I can already see your judgement - you are "racist" (even if Syrians are not a race). OK you are "xenophobic" - and guess what? I am not. Here's my logic, the upper floor contains furniture from three different houses (dismantled beds, 3 sofas, 1 salon, 2 dining room tables with their chairs, 1 living room apart from the knick-knacks (mattresses etc...)). So, what do I do with those?

Long story short it is easy to jump to judgement when one does not know the story. Thing is, what if you twist the facts and rearrange them so that they tell the story you want? Welcome to "undo the damage before it's too late" - a campaign against Syrian refugees.

First let me tell you a story: In 2022, during the parliament elections Farid Boustani, who was campaigning for a seat in the Chouf area plastered his message in Kesserwan. What? But the logic is simple: During the war many, many, people from the Chouf area got displaced, a lot of them eventually ended up in Kesserwan (to be clear the displaced people were Christian), and despite the whole surge of rebuilding their houses in the villages they left, basically they remained in the areas they migrated to - using the Chouf houses are some sort of weekend/summer escape. 

Statistics clearly indicate that 90% of displaced people never go back home. Worse? What if they have nothing to go back to? Our immediate neighbor who is renting the house below mine had 2 restaurants and 2 houses. He lost all of them. He is now employed at a very famous restaurant in Lebanon as a chef. He is trying to build a new life knowing that back "home" there is nothing.

What about those required to serve in the Syrian army, want it or not? As soon as they cross back the border, they are wanted again. I know, I know, this is a simplistic argument but this does not mean that the original statistics used by the "stop the damage" campaign are correct (example, they claim that refugees are 40% of all Lebanese inhabitants whereas the correct number is 15%, the use photos taken from Turkey claiming they are in Lebanon etc...).

Whereas I claim no easy answer, when one goes back to what happened in Lebanon - that a major fragment of the population became displaced, one can only sympathize. But perhaps sympathy is selective.