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Refugees' tents in Lebanon set on fire

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29 Dec 2020
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Refugees

STORY BY CHIARA FABBRI

@UNHCRLebanon reported that on the night of the 26th of December, a personal dispute between Lebanese and Syrian refugees turned violent, resulting in the blazing of refugees' tents in the Miniyeh region, near the coastal city of Tripoli (Lebanon).

As a consequence, hundreds of Syrian refugees had to flee their makeshift camp burned down by the fire (Reuters). At least four people were injured and needed to be transferred to a nearby hospital (UNHCR).

'I came back to check on belongings inside our small tent only to discover that we no longer own anything […] We lost everything in one moment' Amira Issa (45-year-old Syrian mother, who fled 8 years ago) said in an interview with the AFP.

Khaled Kabarra, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, states that there are 93 impacted families and that “UNHCR Lebanon and partners teams are speaking with the affected families, and providing the necessary emergency assistance. We are also in contact with the Lebanese authorities to follow up on the situation in the area”.

The AFP further reported an interview with the local army who have now '[…]arrested two Lebanese nationals and six Syrians over a personal dispute... between a number of Lebanese men and Syrian workers, […] The Lebanese men fired bullets in the air and torched the tents of Syrian refugees […]'.

According to the Human Rights Report Lebanon hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, however, only 26% have legal status. Many of these refugees are the source of cheap manual labour in the agricultural and construction sector.

On this occasion Reuters reported a rise in tension between residents and refugees fuelled by the precarity of the financial crisis. Politicians and humanitarian workers suggest that groups of Lebanese people fuelled by anger and racism blame the refugees for taking their jobs. Nevertheless, the UNHCR further tweets on the solidarity provided by local people after the blaze.

MORE ABOUT THE STORY ON TWITTER

Chiara Fabbri is studying MA Journalism at Falmouth Unversity

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