Suffering of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon, Tent costs $300 & “Kissing hand”

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Enab Baladi Issue # 90 – Sun, Nov. 10, 2013

النازحون في لبنانJoudi Salam – Enab Baladi

He videotaped me kissing his hand; it was his imposed condition to give me the awning”, said Muhammad, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon as he was retelling the story and the living conditions of his displaced family.

Muhammad and his family left Syria five months ago after their house in Karm Al Zaitoun (Homs) was shelled and totally destroyed holding hope the neighbouring country will warmly welcome them.

The family arrived at Lebanon only to be surprised to learn that houses rents exceeds 500$ a month; they tried to seek refuge in refugee camps, yet they were turned down given the excuse that there is no places to receive new refugees.

The family’s sole alternative was to rent a small piece of land in Bar Elias, in Beqaa from a land owner who has divided his land into four-square-meter sections, each is rented for $100 per month.

Woods and awning needed to set up a tent to shelter Muhammad, his wife, their kids, his mother and two of his sister cost him $333; as the tent was about to be put up, Muhammad noticed that it required another piece of awning but at that point he was totally broke and could not afford to buy one. He went to a member of “Tayyar Al Mustaqbal”, a political party in Lebanon; the member -We reserve the right to mention his name- is known of offering help to Syrians in return of “unreasonable and humiliating” demands.

The member asked Muhammad to kiss his hand, a sign of humiliation, in return of the piece of awning. Muhammad was in grave need for that awning and thus he found himself obliged to give into the demand.

Muhammad added that many people in the area got materials for their tents through similar methods; his neighbour was offered to get the materials he needs in return of photos of his wife. The neighbor was furious to hear that demand, and he attacked Tayyar-Al-Mustaqbal member beating and cursing him for his “immoral” request.

Houses were not the only closed doors for Muhammad and his family; hospitals also refused to give him help or free treatment. Muhammad suffers from Haemophilia, a serious disease that prevents a person’s blood from becoming thick; in addition, his right hand and his left leg are both disabled. He headed to “Elias Hrawi Public Hospital” with his medical reports in order to receive his medications; he was asked to pay $666 for one syringe. Muhammad desperately tried to explain his situation to the nurse who coldly replied “go to Saad Al Hariri let him help you… isn’t he the one receiving Syrians at his own expense!”. Muhammad left the hospital without receiving any treatment up till now.

Muhammad’s wife has work 12 hours a day in Food Preserve Factory; she earns $400 a month, most of which is spent on the land rent and on the electricity bill; what is left of it is barely enough to feed the family.

Muhammad’s health condition prevents him from work; however, the family was afflicted by cutting off UN aids, and became deprived of the little support they used to have. Muhammad says that someone reached him offering to re-enlist the family to receive UN aids again in return for a specific sum of money.

The family’s suffering increases in a cold tent as a freezing winter approaches; Muhammad’s crotches sink into the damp ground, thus he needs a member of his family whenever he needs to use the bathroom, which all residents of tents in the land share. As for the landowner, he lives in a nearby house, and shouts at kids playing outside their tents ordering them to get back inside and keep quiet.

Experiencing the suffering, humiliation, and displacement, Muhammad says he prefers “living in a dumpster in Syria to taking this humiliations here”.

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