Justin Salhani of The Los Angeles Times is reporting that tensions are brewing in Lebanon with the influx of Syrian refugees. Initially, the Lebanese welcomed Syrian refugees who were fleeing the civil war that erupted during the Arab Spring, with many calling for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. After two years of strife and more than 400,000 Syrian refugees flooding into Lebanon, the sentiment is changing.
“But now after almost two years of a steady influx of displaced Syrians, Naaman and other Lebanese citizens in Bab Tabbaneh are growing weary. Many blame the newcomers for shrinking wages and job opportunities and increasing rents and prices for groceries, car repairs and necessities.
‘Syrians are everywhere and they are taking jobs,’ said Naaman, a grizzled native of Tripoli in his mid-40s who ekes out a living selling vegetables, having retired from his position as a right-hand man for a now-deceased leader of one of this city’s many militias.
The anger vented by Naaman and others is indicative of a growing unease across Lebanon about the steady stream of refugees, who they fear may destabilize Lebanon’s brittle political and social balance.”
Nearly 1,000 Syrians come into Lebanon on a daily basis, many working in low-skilled jobs and cramming into impoverished neighborhoods. Syrian refugees are often exploited by the business establishment in Lebanon who pay them extremely low wages relative to the amount of work that they are expected to accomplish. The Syrian refugee population has a pronounced sectarian make-up with many being Sunni Muslim and the Alawites, the Shiite sect that includes al-Assad.
Read more at The Los Angeles Times.