Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Syrian refugees

Warring Syria Goes Hungry: Stick Figures, Stunted Growth…

Posted on April 3, 2014

Rana Obaid began her life less than two years ago in a comfortable house draped with roses, the daughter of a grocer locally famous for his rich homemade yogurt.

War and siege brought hunger so quickly to their town near Damascus that when she died in September, at 19 months, her arms and legs were as thin as broomsticks.

ANNE BARNARD Published this November 2, 2013 on nyt Enlarge This Image

The New York Times

BEIRUT, Lebanon —

Signs in Moadhamiya (Mo3zamieh?) read, “Kneel or starve.”

Suspected cases of malnutrition are surfacing from areas held by the rebels and the government.

In a nearby town, a woman with a son suffering from kidney failure makes her children take turns eating on alternate days.

In a village outside Aleppo in northern Syria, people say they are living mainly on wild greens.

Aid workers say that Syrian refugee children are arriving in northern Lebanon thin and stunted, and that suspected malnutrition cases are surfacing from rebel-held areas in northern Syria to government-held suburbs south of Damascus.

A boy, at a Syrian refugee camp near the border with Turkey, waiting in line for a hot meal, looked inside a tent at stacks of bread. Millions in the war-torn nation are suffering from hunger. Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Across Syria, a country that long prided itself on providing affordable food to its people, international and domestic efforts to ensure basic sustenance amid the chaos of war appear to be failing.

(Actually, one of the main reasons why the colonial powers hated the Syrian people is that Syria didn’t owe a dime to any foreign country. Syria was self-sufficient in almost everything. No foreign (sovereign) debt)

Millions are going hungry to varying degrees, and there is growing evidence that acute malnutrition is contributing to relatively small but increasing numbers of deaths, especially among small children, the wounded and the sick, aid workers and nutrition experts say.

The experts warn that if the crisis continues into the winter, deaths from hunger and illness could begin to dwarf deaths from violence, which has already killed well over 100,000 people, (a “civil war” that was induced in 2011) and if the deprivation lasts longer, a generation of Syrians risks stunted development.

“I didn’t expect to see that in Syria,” said Dr. Annie Sparrow, an assistant professor and pediatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, who examined Syrian refugee children in Lebanon and was shocked to find many underweight for their height and age.

“It’s not accurate to say this is Somalia, but this is a critical situation,” she said. “We have a middle-income country that is transforming itself into something a lot more like Somalia.”

While the war has prevented a precise accounting of the number of people affected, evidence of hunger abounds.

The government is using siege and starvation as a tactic of war in many areas, according to numerous aid workers and residents, who say that soldiers at checkpoints confiscate food supplies as small as grocery bags, treating the feeding of people in strategic rebel-held areas as a crime.

Rebel groups, too, are blockading some government-held areas and harassing food convoys.

But even for those living in more accessible areas, what aid workers call “food insecurity” is part of Syrians’ new baseline.

Inflation has made food unaffordable for many; fuel and flour shortages close some bakeries, while government airstrikes target others; agricultural production has been gutted.

Though the World Food Program says it is providing enough food for 3 million Syrians each month, its officials say they can track only what is delivered to central depots in various cities, not how widely or fairly it is distributed from there.

One aid worker — who, in a sign of the political challenges of delivering aid in Syria, asked that his organization not be identified — said he recently met Syrian health workers who reported a dozen cases of apparent malnutrition in a government-held Damascus suburb.

He suspected that the situation could be far worse in rebel-held areas.

Lack of medical care and clean water exacerbates the problem.

So does the fact that Syrians have little experience diagnosing or treating malnutrition. Particularly troubling, aid workers say, are reports of mothers who stop breast feeding, unaware that it is the best way for even a malnourished mother to keep her child alive.

Some aid groups are trying to train Syrian doctors to use simple tools that measure upper arm circumference to assess malnutrition, as convincing data on its prevalence could help spur a stronger international response.

Aid workers caution against overblown claims that could discredit such efforts.

Some government supporters even dismissed the images of bone-thin children from blockaded areas as propaganda after several thousand civilians were evacuated from the encircled Damascus suburb of Moadhamiya in recent weeks, looking exhausted, shellshocked and thin, but not on the verge of starving to death.


Mohammad Ghannam contributed reporting from Beirut, and an employee of The New York Times from Qudsaya, Syria.

A version of this article appears in print on November 3, 2013, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Stick Figures and Stunted Growth As Warring Syria Goes Hungry.


 PhotographsThe Historic Scale of Syria’s Refugee Crisis

 Video Feature. WATCHING SYRIA’S WAR.Panic After Bombing in Village Near Hama

Note: It is 2021 and the “global war” on the Syrian people is Not over. Turkey occupies a large swath in northern Syria and the Kurdish backed USA militia occupies the oil rich North-Eastern region. Russia and Iran control many strategic centers, airports and seaports

What Mortal Sins Did the Syrian Regime Commit?

Posted on October 24, 2008 and written n March 9, 2005

Mind you that this article/report was written in 2005

At this phase of the struggle, the “million Lebanese citizens” who gathered in Riad Solh Square to thank Syria for the peace and stability that Lebanon enjoyed for 15 years are No different than the thousands who demonstrated for weeks in the Martyrs’ Square demanding freedom, self determination and independence from Syria.  

They all waved the Lebanese Flag!

Syria should have gotten the clear message all the way, but it seems that a one party regime is not flexible or trained enough to recognize the deep feelings that the Lebanese are expressing.

Apparently, the Syrian regime is pressured into such a tight corner that it is happy to hold on rhetoric at the tip of the iceberg and fool itself into going back to doing business as usual.  

Not only President Lahoud is rejecting the opposition demands for the resignation of the heads of all security and intelligence services, but he is trying to mindlessly force a prime minister into our throats who resigned under the “pressure” of the people.  

If the opposition is not willing to desist on its demands and throw away its legitimate victory by the people, why would the President commit the worst sin a serious politician shouldn’t attempt to do? 

Does the President want to sacrifice himself for Lebanon by being ejected in a grand way in order for Lebanon to demonstrate its self determination by acting in a grand way as a proof of its legitimate and rightful stubbornness?  

If the President declares his recognition of the dangerous path he is taking, then Lebanon would thank him immeasurably and anoint him as the most heroic and patriotic president so far.

Unfortunately, I lean toward the notion that the President is taking a petty stand that would inevitably destroy whatever achievement he might have claimed.

And Lahoud achieved a lot in forcing Israel to withdraw, without conditions, from the southern territories it occupied for 23 years. and he restrained late Rafic Hariri PM from privatizing most public institutions at very low prices, especially public utility and communication.

Across the border there is a one party regime that has been “enslaving” 17 million Syrians for over 50 years under slight variations. Such a dinosaur is not expected to change behavior in a peaceful process.  

The damaging mistake the Syrian regime committed is to try governing a people across the other border that experienced extreme freedom, an understanding of freedom that goes as far as committing the worst crimes and slaughters in the name of the “freedom to kill a fellow citizen” on the basis of his identity card for sectarian reasons.  

Please, don’t give me any slacks and try offering lame excuses that the 200 thousands Lebanese were killed by foreign elements during our civil war! No, they were assassinated and transferred by local sectarian militias.

Instead of acting vigorously to implement all the articles in the Taif agreement, the Syrian regime was sitting comfortably in Lebanon and waiting for the USA to remove its cover over its tutelage in Lebanon before reacting accordingly.  

Obviously, a democratic state that value human rights and freedom of expression would have come to reason, long before the international community reminds it to its responsibilities.  

There are no doubt that dozen of humongous rodents in Lebanon and Syria, current opposition leaders and allies to Syria, in tandem, and forming efficient and ruthless mafias were happily nibbling viciously at our public funds.  

There is no doubt that these easy and uncontrolled machinations for grand thefts were a major factor for this lengthy stay in Lebanon and our humiliating situation.

The old guards of the one party regime got lost in our Ali Baba cave and didn’t listen to storms and changing political climate forming outside.

Yes, the Lebanese citizens paid twice for every service they received with extreme difficulty: we paid twice for electricity, for water and for communication facilities.

We overpaid for everything we purchased that was controlled by the government.

Lebanon is the costliest country, not only among the surrounding Arab States but in the world.  

All the $45 billion debt (at the time of writing the article) that financial institutions (local and foreign) were glad to lend our governments would require more than two generation to wipe out.  (From 2005 to 2020, this debt reached $200 bn), in this State that import almost everything and has nothing much to export)

What did Lebanon receive in return for a debt that would have reconstructed Germany after the war? 

A “Reconstructed Downtown” was paid for by the Lebanese themselves and who cannot use it anyhow, but to stroll in its street:  no working Lebanese can purchase anything from our high class Downtown shops, rent a small apartment or even park his car.

What about the $10 billion “invested” on the electrical facilities with generators that keep shutting down and fueled by the wrong/corrupted fuel and that keep us in the dark for days forcing us to rely on local generator providers?

What about “top of the line” hospitals waiting for years to be staffed because the rodents have not yet agreed among themselves for the rightful share in the deal?

What about the Lebanese University, facilities and manpower, still not fully operational that has been losing ground to 30 private universities most of them not properly certified to operate?  

What about our fixed telephone lines that most of us cannot afford to connect to ($500 was required and even Not refundable)?  

What about our cellular communication services that is twice as expensive as the costliest in the world?

What about the $5 billion spent on relocating the Lebanese families into their original towns, a sum that could have relocated Taiwan into China, and still they did not care to return?  

What about the billion allocated to the Southern villages after the withdrawal of Israel in the year 2000 and all we can see are the released Lebanese prisoners from the Israeli jails still demonstrating to get any relief?

Yes, Syria was allowed to rebuild the old Lebanese army and secure peace in Lebanon for 15 years; the million thanks are appropriate in this case.  

Yes, the weakling Lebanon was demanding too much and too soon from a crippled regime barely able to reconcile with itself and its future.  

Yes, Syria was all the time afraid from waves of liberty and freedom of expression to cross its insulated population, but it should have tried to experience something that would have done it a great deal of good.

We should banish hatred for the kind and patient Syrian people and learn to shunt chauvinism, an inkling we are prone to do, and our institutions are a million light year away to attack this behavior of ours.  

The Syrian workers have demonstrated that they are the hardest and most diligent workers.  Lebanon was mostly rebuilt by the Syrian workforce (And is still is by the 1.5 million Syrian refugees during Syria forced civil war since 2011).  

A million thanks for our brothers, friends and best allies in Syria.

It is time that our slogans for freedom, self determination and independence become more specific of what these notions means to us before the Syrian troops redeploy behind our borders.  

The Syrians are withdrawing their troops and will complete this task shortly.  The demonstrators should start naming names of these fat rodents, demand their detention, putting them to trial, punished seriously and the money returned to the Lebanese citizens.  (Nothing of that happened and in 2021 Not a single civil war mafia/leader was put on trial)

The demonstrators should use their gatherings to discuss seriously what Lebanon they dream about and what their expectations are.

Note: I do confirm that the mistake of a lifetime of Bashar Assad of Syria was to completely withdraw all his troops from Lebanon after the assassination Rafic Hariri.

If he maintained a small detachment in the Bekaa Valley for a few months, Lebanon would Not have experienced this mass looting of his wealth by the alignment of all the civil war militia leaders. At least, Bashar should have make sure that General Aoun returned from exile and a proportional election law is enacted.

An approach to Urban Refugees?

Note: Re-edit of “Towards a City-zenship Approach to Urban Refugees. March 12, 2018″

A neighborhood upgrading approach would begin with a participatory assessment of living conditions in areas of high density that bring together.
In addition to representative members of multiple vulnerable groups, municipal authorities, public service and planning agencies, local associations, international donors and relief agencies.
And other actors involved in supporting directly or indirectly the dwellers of a neighborhood to form local neighborhood committees and establish an inclusive planning process under which agencies have some leeway to engage in “developmental activities” as a form of “crisis response”.
Mona Fawaz, professor in Urban Studies and Planning at the American University of Beirut, member of Beirut Madinati, and LCPS research fellow
There is growing evidence that the distinction between individuals tagged with the “refugee” label and other vulnerable groups is often slim, particularly in urban contexts.
Most urban refugees live in dilapidated and precarious urban neighborhoods that they share with impoverished nationals, migrant workers, and other vulnerable population groups.[1]
As conflicts extend, many of these refugees do not benefit from substantive assistance.[2] Instead, they share the “stigma” of the “outsider” with other international migrants who reside in the same neighborhoods.
Worse, both are frequently competing over the same employment opportunities while suffering from similar legal discrimination that stigmatizes their presence and/or work as “illegal” and consequently exposes them to higher risks.
The dismantlement of the welfare state and consequent withdrawal of public services that could privilege nationals also reduces differences between those who benefit from a legal citizenship status and those who are treated as “outsiders”, eventually lumping all these vulnerable population groups into the category of “residents of dilapidated urban areas.” 
These observations raise important questions for those interested in contemporary refugee responses.
Is it time to reconsider the dominant nationalist fiction that has guided targeted humanitarian refugee responses on the basis of citizenship?
Can we instead adopt the premise that large-scale forced population movements such as those witnessed recently in Syria and neighboring countries are generating a challenge that is better answered through the language of urban city-zenship that disregards national belonging and instead favors responses targeting particular urban quarters?

Should refugee responses, at least partially, be focused on the revision of urban policy making and support for a targeted “neighborhood-based” approach that seeks to upgrade dilapidated neighborhoods instead of targeting vulnerable individuals?[3]

I argue that in Lebanon, particularly in the 5 large-scale urban centers where the majority of Syrian refugees—and, more generally, the majority of vulnerable urban populations—dwell, a neighborhood-based approach that pulls together scattered, piecemeal interventions into a holistic, multi-sectoral neighborhood upgrading strategy, has the potential to bring about positive economic, social, and political outcomes for multiple vulnerable population groups and the cities where they dwell.

Such an approach would integrate the efforts of the assemblage of local and international actors who currently conduct refugee response projects as part of coordinated interventions that shift ongoing support from individuals or buildings to dilapidated neighborhoods through participatory strategies that prioritize local livability and employment generation.
Building on earlier informal settlement upgrading strategies, these projects could help patch up the main fractures between refugees and local populations.

Why is a neighborhood-based approach that responds to the “refugee crisis” by upgrading degraded neighborhood an adequate response?

Consider the following:

First, Lebanon’s patterns of refugee settlement resemble in every aspect the global trend of refugees settling in urban areas rather than in camps.

In fact, five years into the crisis, funding has considerably dwindled and most refugees are forced to rely on their labor to survive, precipitating their movement to cities where they rent rooms, makeshift spaces, or apartments in so-called “urban slums” they share with other vulnerable social groups (e.g. Palestinian refugees, foreign migrant workers, and low-income Lebanese).[4]

Hence, it is possible to target refugees in well-identified, precarious neighborhoods.
Second, a neighborhood-upgrading approach empirically recognizes the absence of sound national housing policies and compensates by investing in better livelihoods for vulnerable social groups, including refugees.

Given that the Lebanese economy is heavily invested in real estate speculation, provides only marginal safety nets for vulnerable families, and depends heavily on cheap, unprotected labor, it is likely that precarious settlements will continue to form the only affordable housing option for most vulnerable groups.

These neighborhoods have, however, suffered disproportionately negative consequences in the ongoing refugee crisis.

In the absence of mechanisms of land acquisition that could horizontally increase the supply of housing, accommodations are being provided by vertical building densification: Dividing existing apartments, adding floors, sharing spaces in higher levels of crowding.

Predictably, the consequences are individual hardship for households in these neighborhoods as building services crumble.

Also, there is a downward spiraling trend for entire neighborhoods where failing infrastructure has constituted a challenge, even prior to the refugee crisis.

In Lebanon, where neighborhood upgrading interventions in the forms articulated in most other countries of the Global South have never been introduced, the effects of the densification are even more severe than described elsewhere.

In this context, a neighborhood upgrading approach that improves collective infrastructure and invests in shared facilities has a good chance of significantly improving the health and living conditions of all neighborhood dwellers.

Third, a neighborhood-upgrading approach is expected to bring positive economic benefits to vulnerable communities.

Physical upgrading entails investments in individual apartments, buildings, and neighborhood projects, all of which create work opportunities within the sectors where Syrian refugees (and other vulnerable social groups) have traditionally worked.[5]

There is again evidence that in addition to Syrian refugees, Palestinian refugees and the poorest Lebanese groups have suffered disproportionately from the refugee crisis, particularly in the loss of employment on which they survive.
A well formulated, neighborhood-upgrading approach may also provide incentives for the formation of local small-scale rehabilitation enterprises by neighborhood dwellers who would undertake upgrading projects.
Within this framework, it will be important to introduce regulations to encourage the recirculation of wage money in a specific area by incentivizing local businesses and preventing further transformations of the housing stock into assets owned by outsiders.
Ultimately, if neighborhood upgrading approaches integrate with these physical interventions and other social programs (e.g. training, schooling, healthcare), they are likely to set in motion positive economic cycles with positive, long-term benefits for refugees.

Finally, a neighborhood upgrading approach has the potential to reduce heightened tensions between vulnerable social groups exposed to severe hardship and competing over mere survival.

In the past two years, targeted interventions from international organizations have left those without such support (e.g. migrant workers, unsupported refugees, poor Lebanese) bitter at perceived discrimination against themselves, namely that refugees are receiving support they are denied.

Targeted interventions further fostered an environment of competition and abuse under which landlords have demanded higher rents (exposing everyone to higher vulnerability) and ultimately fostered negative tensions among groups.

Investments that instead address neighborhoods holistically and create work opportunities in recognition of a shared hardship have the potential to use spatial planning as an opportunity to create a shared sense of a common good among dwellers, more relation/attachment to place, and other proved positive factors.

What would a neighborhood upgrading approach entail?

A neighborhood upgrading approach would begin with a participatory assessment of living conditions in areas of high density that bring together, in addition to representative members of multiple vulnerable groups, municipal authorities, public service and planning agencies, local associations, international donors and relief agencies, and other actors involved in supporting directly or indirectly the dwellers of a neighborhood to form local neighborhood committees and establish an inclusive planning process under which agencies have some leeway to engage in “developmental activities” as a form of “crisis response”.

A neighborhood upgrading approach should aim for the improvement of shared/common spaces and the reorganization of regulatory frameworks through which access to basic needs (e.g. access to housing, work, school) is occurring.

In this context, it is imperative to favor direct investments in shared infrastructure (e.g. water, electricity, sewer, public spaces) through projects that generate employment opportunities for workers while upgrading living conditions.

In addition, a neighborhood upgrading approach will require the establishment of a local legal official and representation of public agencies (e.g. municipalities) to enforce a locally-designed regulatory framework that organizes contractual agreements (e.g. rental agreements, work agreements) to reduce abuses and injustices.

Finally, recent research has shown that an area-based approach can only be successful if linked to wider city or regional plans and policies, by expanding the role of municipalities and regional authorities in conceptualizing linkages and relations between precarious neighborhoods and other areas of cities.

In closing, an area-based approach may turn the ongoing challenge of refugee housing and ensuing crises into an opportunity to address long-term, endemic challenges in Lebanese cities by embracing the urban planning framework direly missing in our country.

This is not a given, particularly as considerations of national citizenship assumed in the introduction of this approach are far from accepted in Lebanon but it nonetheless offers an opportunity for a more informed, hopeful urban refugee and urban politics.

[1] Fawaz, M. 2017. “Planning and the refugee crisis: Informality as a framework of analysis and reflection.” Planning Theory 16(1): 99-115.
[2] UNHCR estimates that about half refugees live in protracted conditions
[3] This approach has emerged recently among UNHCR and other agencies under the label of an “Area-based approach”. I chose to retain “urban upgrading” to explicitly link the proposal to the long tradition in planning practice of intervening in so-called informal settlements to improve livability and sometimes clarify and regularize tenure.
[4] UNHCR and UN-Habitat. 2014.
[5] Dahdah, A. 2015. “Habiter la Ville Sans Droits: Les Travailleurs Migrants dans les Marges de Beyrouth.” PhD dissertation at Aix-Marseille Université.

How Lebanon overcame 6 years of a useless President: Michel Suleiman

Note: updated post of 2014

How this Insipid President vacated the Palace? Account in banks by the millions, Not accounting for 2 dozens luxury cars, gifts from Qatar and Saudi Kingdom and many newly built villas

During the presidency of Suleiman,  no government was formed in less than 200 days, the recent government needed 395 days of gestation.

Lebanon ridiculous shadow State.

This ex-president Michel Suleiman, the President of the Void per excellence: no one cried when he vacated the Palace, accompanied by 10 new luxury cars of his own, free from taxes.

Suleiman was dreaming of extending his tenure 2 more years, as the Parliament did last year and robbed the citizens from their democratic rights, as did the ex-president Emil Lahoud, as did the late ex- president Hrawi…

The hopes of Suleiman were dashed since his passive practices and antagonistic positions on Hezbollah alienated the Shiaa and most of the Lebanese patriots.

Three months ago, in desperation, Suleiman referred to Hezbollah as talking with a “wooden tongue” since the resistance insisted on the strategic line of “People, Army and Resistance

In order to demonstrate that he can still deliver on his promises (6 years overdue) if given two more years, Saudi Arabia and the US gave the green light to the designated PM Saad Hariri, head of the Mustakbal (Future) movement, to help constitute a government that was 395 days in waiting.

The government started with a flurry of decisions, like imposing a climate of security in the city of Tripoli and the regions bordering Syria in the Bekaa Valley and appointed a dozen high-level public servants.

The public service was denied the  appointment of key personnel for a decade and the services in Lebanon were almost non-existent.

The professors and teachers in the public universities were left in the void and the government replaced the University Council in appointing and controlling every decision concerning the universities.

Suleiman delivered a farewell speech suggesting dozens of constitutional reforms and failed to deliver on his promises for decentralized administration, a project that was studied and finished when he took office, and alienated many parties and organization to boost the economy that has been experiencing a drastic slump for the last 3 years.

He also promised a fair election law, something related to proportional representation, but never acted on it.

He failed in extending rights to women or appointing more women in top posts.

Suleiman failed to efficiently control the flood of Syrian refugees, more than 1.25 million and constituting a third of the population, and allowed the Syrian insurgents to free flow and cross the Lebanese borders to Syria.

In essence, in 6 years, Suleiman cannot be remembered of creating any institution or bolstering any existing institution.

Suleiman was army chief when the Lebanese political leaders met in Do7a (Qatar) to decide on a replacement “neutral” Maronite  president to “lead” the country for 6 years.

On May 7, 2008 Hezbollah counter-attacked the decisions of the government to clip its control on the airport security and land communication lines. The government retracted and Hezbollah succeeded in closing down a dozen of Israeli safe havens for their agents and security offices disguised as providing civil guards to businesses and personalities.

Consequently, with ex-President Lahoud, already out with a vacant Presidential chair, and a government out of function, Qatar angered Saudi Arabia by inviting the Lebanese leaders to meet in Doha and arranged for a compromise President. And Suleiman sat on the chair of the presidency.

In democratic countries, the leader of the largest parliamentary deputies is the one selected to lead. Not in Lebanon with 19 officially recognized religious castes. That was the huge error of Michel Aoun to bow down on a right he deserved and allowed Suleiman to be President.

Lebanon is a parliamentary system: Nothing is run without the parliament approval, even in the executive or judiciary. But the leader of the largest group is not necessarily the de facto leader: The consensus of the two third of the deputies is required.

As the uprising started in Syria, the propaganda claimed that the regime of Bashar Assad will not last two months. And Suleiman put all his eggs in that basket of “after Bashar” regime and refrained from securing Lebanon’s borders from the infiltration of the Syrian insurgents and refugees.

For two years, Lebanon was the main source for supplying the insurgents in Homs with weapons and medical supplies, and the Syrian insurgents established bases in Lebanon in the north and in the city of Tripoli.

The Lebanese army was not covered politically to establish security in Tripoli, and Tripoli was plagued with 20 rounds of civil wars within a year.

And Lebanon experienced waves of suicide car explosion attacks for 4 months due to the open borders that the army was denied the responsibility to close and control

Suleiman filled a vacant chair and left the chair vacant: The Parliament failed to elect a new President to Lebanon.

And Lebanon has no President. And this event will keep recurring. As the frequency of Lebanon having no governments.

And no decision can be legitimate without the President review and signature.

Suleiman vacated the Palace with dozens of villas newly built for him and his family members, and $1.6 million in an account in Amsterdam Bank. All the expensive watches that he received in gifts were sold, many of them are in the black market. All these financial information were exposed in the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar.

And Suleiman satisfied the policies of US in the Near East, and consequently he can rest assured that he will not be prosecuted for any kinds of embezzlement or any kinds of political harassment or denied visas or any headaches

In this total void, and the illegitimacy of the highest institutions to properly function, Israel is increasing its violations on the southern borders.

Pretty soon, Hezbollah would set up a trap to the incursions of Israeli troops. And Israel will be faced with a hard decision on how to respond. And the Lebanese will be convinced that all the shouting of relying on the State is totally unfounded and premature.

Note: It is 2019. Sure the current President Michel Aoun, another former general of the army, a former appointed Prime minister during the civil war, an elected deputy, founder of the Tayyar party, exiled to France after the colonial powers decided to let Syria be the mandated power (1991 till 2005), while Israel was to occupy south Lebanon till it was forced to withdraw in 2000 without any precondition…

Finally, the majority of the parties in the Parliament agreed to have Aoun President since he had the vast majority of the “Christian” deputies. A new election law and a new election for the chamber of deputies (same figures and same hereditary tradition…).  The budget formally voted on since 2008, many tentative reform laws that have Not been applied…

And now a monster march/demonstration since October 17, 2019 that refuses to quit the streets in Beirut and several other cities, demanding a change in the political system (controlled since 1993 by the mafia/militia “leaders” of the civil war).  Promises, promises…

And the people are hungry, frustrated, trampled on, no electricity, no water, no resolution for the multiple kinds of pollution, no resolution for waste disposal, unclean water ways and seashore, no jobs, highest density of refugees, crumbling financial situation, high dept ($100 bn), no economic infrastructure, expensive services of all kinds

And No viable alternatives pointing in the horizon.

Why Lebanese employers like to hire Syrian refugees?

Would any Lebanese agree to work under these rules?
1. Address your employers as ‘mister’ or ‘madam’ and always smile.
2. Offer your help constantly even if you’ve finished work.
3. You can sleep 7 hours per day after taking your employer’s permission.
4. Keep your mobile with your employer and not have a pass-code on it.
5. Under no circumstances are you to go out alone.
6. Do minor work for your boss on your day off.
7. If your employer wants you to go and work in another place, you must agree.
8. You are not allowed to carry cash.
You’ll be paid $150 a month. Sound good? Sign up now. Don’t rush. Form an orderly queue.
#salibaabusers #oneoftheworstagenciesinLebanon

Note 1: Refugees don’t have the spirit to stand up for their rights. Lebanese citizens too don’t stand up for their rights: they just mouth them, to spite themselves. Small business Employers, all over the world, are mostly racists in their excuses for making profits

Note 2: A comment from Faten Maka: Lebanese agents deceive women coming about the terms and once they arrive, they are trapped. Do you think anyone in their right mind would go to Lebanon if they saw this paper before getting on the plane?

No photo description available.

Saudi Kingdom is allowing in female Syrian servants: A female Syrian poet replied to this ignominy

Poet Colette Khouri responded to this vile invitation: No Syrian refugees were admitted in this terrorist Kingdom

Nahed Sleiman shared ‎سلمية الحدث‎’s post22 hrs · 
Image may contain: 1 person

سلمية الحدث‎ is with Nancitta Salem.Like PageFebruary 8 at 10:49am · 

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فردت عليه ﺷﺎﻋﺮﺓ ﺳﻮﺭﻳﻪاسمها(كوليت خوري)بهذه القصيدة الرائعة:
ﺛﻜﻠﺘﻚ ﺍﻣﻚ ﺍﻳﻬﺎ ﺍﻟﺤﻘﺒﺎﻧﻲ
ﻭ ﺑﻘﻴﺖ ﻣﻠﻌﻮﻧﺎ ﻣﺪﻯ ﺍﻻﺯﻣﺎنِ

ﺧﺎﻟﻔﺖ ﺍﻋﺮﺍﻑ ﺍﻟﻘﺒﺎﺋﻞ ﻛﻠﻬﺎ
ﻣﻦ ﻧﺴﻞ ﻗﺤﻄﺎﻥ ﻭ ﻣﻦ ﻋﺪﻧﺎنِ

ﺣﻘﺎ ًﻓﻌُﺮﻓُﻚ ﻳﺎ ﻏﺒﻲ ﻛﺴﺒﺘﻪ
ﻣﻦ ﻋﺮﻑ ﻫﻨﺪﻱ ﻭ ﺑﺎﻛﺴﺘﺎﻧﻲ

ﻗﺪ ﻋﺎﻳﺸﻮﻙ ﺣﻴﺎﺗﻬﻢ ﻭ ﺃﻟﻔﺘﻬﻢ
ﻭ ﺗﺨﺎﻟﻄﺖ ﺍﻧﺴﺎﻟﻜﻢ ﺻﻨﻔﺎنِ

ﺻﺎﺭ ﺍﻟﻐﺮﻳﺐ ﺑﺪﺍﺭﻛﻢ ﺍﻫﻼً ﺑﻪ
ﻭغدا ﺍللصديق ﺑﻤﺤﺮﻡ ﺍﻟﻨﺴﻮﺍنِ

ﻭ ﻳﺴﻮﻕ ﻣﺮﻛﺒﻬﺎ ﻭ ﻳﺤﺮﺱ ﺑﺎﺑﻬﺎ
ﻳﻘﻀﻲ ﺣﻮﺍﺋﺠﻬﺎ ﺑﻜﻞ ﺗﻔﺎﻧﻲ

ﻭ ﺭﺿﻴﺖ ﺍﻥ ﻳﺨﻠﻮ ﺑﻬﺎ ﻣﺘﻔﺮﺩﺍً
ﻭ ﻧﺴﻴﺖ ﺍﻥ ﺍﻟﺜﺎﻟﺚ ﺍﻟﺸﻴﻄﺎنِ

ﺍﻋﻠﻢ ﻓﻘﻮﻟﻚ ﻳﺎ ﻭﺯﻳﺮ ﺍﻏﺎظنا
ﻭ ﺃﺛﺮﺕ ﻓﻴﻨﺎ ﻛﻞ ﺣﺮ ﺷﺎﻣﻲ

ﻓﺄﻧﺎ ﺍﻟﻌﻈﻴﻤﺔ ﻣﺎ ﺣﻴﻴﺖ ﻋﺰﻳﺰﺓً
ﻭ ﺑﻲ ﺍﻟﺸﻬﺎﻣﺔ ﻭ ﺍﻻﺑﺎ ﻋﻨﻮﺍﻧﻲ

ﻭ ﺍﻟﺤﺮ ﻻ ﻳﺮﺿﻰ ﺍﻟﻤﺬﻟﺔ ﻣﻄﻠﻘﺎً
ﻛﻼ ﻭ ﻻ ﺗﺮﺿﻰ ﺑﻬﺎ ﺍﺩﻳﺎﻧﻲ

ﻟﻮ ﻣﺖ ﺟﻮﻋﺎً ﻣﺎ ﻃﺮﻗﺖ ﺩﻳﺎﺭﻛﻢ
ﻛﻼ ﻭﻻ ﺍﺳﺘﺠﺪﻳﺘﻜﻢ ﺇﺣﺴﺎﻧﻲ

ﻻ ﺗﺤﺴﺒﻦ ﺍﻟﻔﻘﺮ فينا ﻓﺎﻗﺔ ً
ﻓﻐﻨﺎﻱ ﻓﻲ ﻃﺒﻌﻲ ﻭ ﻓﻲ ﺇﻳﻤﺎﻧﻲ

ﺳﻮﺭﻳﺔ ﺍﻟﺠﻨﺲ ﺍﻻﺻﺎﻟﺔ ﻣﺬﻫﺒﻲ
ﻭ ﺑﻤﻜﺔ ﺍﻟﺮﻛﻦ ﺍﻟﻌﻈﻴﻢ ﻳﻤﺎﻧﻲ

ﻭ ﺣﺮﺍﺋﺮﺍﻟﺸﺎﻡ الأبي ﺟﻤﻴﻌﻬﺎ
ﺫﺍﺕ ﺍﻻﺻﻮﻝ ﻣﻌﺎﺩﻥ ﻭ ﻣﻌﺎﻧﻲ

وقبلنا كانت فلسطينية منكوبة
لم تخضع لمثلك أو لغيرك ثواني

ﻭﺿَﻌَﺘﻚَ ﻳﺎ ﺑﺪﻭﻱ ﺗﺤﺖ ﻧﻌﺎﻟﻬﺎ
ﻫﻦ ﺍﻟﻨﻔﺎﺋﺲ ﻟﻮﻟﺆاً ﻭ ﺟﻤﺎﻧﻲ
المرﺟﻮ ﻣﻦ ﻛﻞ ﻋﺮﺑﻲ أﺻﻴﻞ نشر هذه ﺍﻟﻘﺼﻴﺪﺓ الرائعة ﻟﻴﺮﺍﻫﺎ كل أبيٍّ شريف

Notes and tidbits on FB and Twitter. Part 78

Once we had a fair country. Still exists in ancient atlas. We cannot go there now, my dear

Cities are wild-life parks. Water and food keep animals at peace. Human emotions feed on myths

One million, a third of Lebanon population, fled during the 13-year civil war. To be replaced by over 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Still a third.

Lebanon, land of transit, of temporary melting pot since prehistory, before they transfer to greener pastures.

Evils overcome the good in cities. People still flock in. They get used to fear, to overcome their insane pride of making it.

L’ idee fix du journalist l’ empeche d’ entendre. Repeter et trouver des perspectives pour expliquer, rien ne fait

Israel violence refuses to abate: 120 Palestinians injured today for praying. No more restrictions allowed by Israel to pray under any form or shape or excuse or age or gender.

Nobody care to inflame publicly the craziness of the USA: they claim to have captured 50% of Raqqa when they didn’t even reach city limits (That was months ago, and now Raqqa completely destroyed Hiroshima- style)

Elle n’ eprouvait pas une grande sympathie pour la jeunesse: son aura etait de ceux qui n’ ont jamais ete’ jeune

La situation etait trop abstraite pour etre affreuse, trop peu etrangere pour n’ etre qu’ un cauchemar

Memory and autumn leaf murmur for a short while: note it down before winter comes

c’ st domage que les livres (hard copies) ne voyagent plus autant que leurs proprietaires.

Si chacun laisse (oublie) son livre quand il voyage, on pourrait esperer plus de gens qui lient.

Burning prisons of infamies that incarcerated the freedom to express conscious opinions is a normal follow-up activity to every genuine revolution

Tous les dictateurs, meme les plus charismatiques, ne sont que les symboles d’ un system dogmatique/ideologique that permeat society et la majorite silencieuse s’ en fout pas mal

Les quinquagenaires (plus de 50 ans) voient leur monde d’ une maniere positive: ils croient qu’ ils sont en age de le gouverner, sans qu’ ils aient jamais leve’ le petit doight pour l’ ameliorer

Peu de gens vous pretent l’oreille quand ils se cachent derriere un livre

Toutes les histoires commencent par une arrivee’ ou un depart. Le meme pour les nations: les pre-emptives wars et engagements pour le pouvoir

Most worthy activities in life are of the endurance kind. Even those trailing will ultimately reach destination

Al Aqsa resistance cannot be successful until all Israeli restrictions, search and harassment on prayers be lifted, regardless of age, gender or race.

It is a good idea for the Moslems to turn toward Jerusalem (Al Aqsa) for praying to send a strong message to Saudi Kingdom for failing Islam.

The downward cycle of getting dumber for audience continues to be passed from hand to hand for everything to become the National Enquirer. Measuring not the size of the audience, but their engagement and commitment produce the change.

initially, the prophet ordered to turn toward Jerusalem for prayer. Order reversed toward Mecca after the Jews turned against him twice and then firmly established his power in his city-state of Medina


So many essential reforms to be done in Lebanon. Where to start?
Hanane Kai posted on FB Yesterday at 7:32pm · 

I can’t wait for the new generation of artists, performers, directors to start producing work that tackle our current problems and challenges in this country.

I understand that civil war is something one cannot just forget (after 33 years), it’s traumatic, it’s loosing your loved ones, and having to kill to save them. It’s living in fear, and it’s being alive today by pure chance.

That said, we’re facing different problems and challenges today. Here’s a list of what I feel we should talk about, instead of war:

The garbage crisis to start with. (Never solved or resolved and becoming a calamity)

The fact that the whole country is becoming a city. Antelias was actually a village not long ago. My village, which is pretty far from Beirut, is now a city (and I still call it my village

How much kids are spoiled these days. How little time parents spend with their children, thanks to the underpaid domestic migrant workers.

Domestic migrant workers, oh… that’s a whole world of problems and challenges. (Suicide, assassinating family members, fleeing to bordellos…)

Political corruption. Homophobia. Patriarchy, where in our most progressive societies, women are still expected to prepare dinner to their husbands although they both have day jobs.

Christians and Muslims still referring to each other as us and them.

Syrian being still looked down upon: we have banners in some villages announcing the illegality of migrant workers to walk on the streets after 7pm.

Public transport. Sexual harassment in public transport.

Unprofessional behaviors. Mediocrity (this one should be on top of the list for me). And mendicant little kids

Homelessness, something we almost didn’t see in Beirut a couple of years back.

Overpopulation. Traffic. Pollution. The lack of urban planing.

The stigma of divorce. The stigma of mental sickness. Backwardness.

The normalization of plastic looking women. The pathetic standard of local series…

There you go. My list of subjects, other than war, that I would like to see addressed in a play, dance performance, movie, exhibition, book.

And that’s not even an exhaustive list.

Other people commented

Lebanese women not being able to travel alone with their children without the father’s permission.

Lebanese women not able to pass on their nationality to their children.

Lebanese women not getting custody for their children after divorce.

Personal status laws for different sects instead of one civil law that gives us all the same rights.

You forgot the new set of taxes that still adopt Stamps (Mireh), high level of indirect taxes, our currency linked to the $ and hampering our economy, the sustained increase of our sovereign debt in order to make banks richer at our expense by transacting T-Bills, tradition of finding someone in the village to pay allegiance to and be servile in our behaviors…
The financial banks in Lebanon want the 2 million Syrian refugees to stay for as long as it is possible: the foreign financial aids keep the currency “stable”.
This linkage to the $ is costing us an arm and a leg and hampering our economy.
Note: All our militia leaders during the civil war are in power and in charge of our “destiny”, and they claim there were no Victors.

This flatulent young Saudi prince wants Syrian refugees to remain in Lebanon

Otherwise, Lebanese in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf will be expulsed?

Wed Aug 2, 2017 7:2AM
Famille de réfugiés syriens au Liban. ©UNHCR
Famille de réfugiés syriens au Liban. ©UNHCR

Le prince héritier d’Arabie saoudite a menacé les dirigeants libanais d’expulser des milliers de Libanais résidant des pays littoraux du golfe Persique.

Selon Fars News, Mohammed ben Salmane prince héritier d’Arabie saoudite a averti que si le gouvernement libanais essayait de faciliter le retour de réfugiés syriens dans leur pays, Riyad expulserait des milliers de Libanais résidant à l’étranger.

Pour ce dernier, la non expulsion de réfugiés syriens du Liban est à l’origine de l’absence de tout conflit interne au Liban, d’autant plus qu’il y a toutes les raisons pour une telle guerre et que certaines parties du gouvernement libanais sont directement impliquées dans des conflits à l’extérieur du Liban.

Ben Salmane a envoyé, via le Premier ministre Saad Hariri, un message au président de la République Michel Aoun et au président du Parlement Nabih Berri, dans lequel il a menacé qu’en cas d’expulsion de réfugiés syriens,  les Libanais dont le nombre s’élevait à un million, seraient renvoyés des Émirats arabes du golfe Persique.

« Si cet un million de Libanais se voient expulsés des pays du golfe Persique, qu’est-ce que vous allez faire avec ces gens qui ont de la rancune envers vos politiques ? », a dit ben Salmane à Saad Hariri.

Il a également prétendu que Beyrouth n’avait dépensé aucun sou pour les réfugiés syriens et que tous les frais de leur éducation, alimentation et résidence avaient été assurés par des institutions caritatives de l’ONU.  (And why Saudi Kingdom refused to aid financially? Or even accept Syrian refugees?)

Cette information a été publiée alors qu’en vertu d’un accord de cessez-le-feu entre le Hezbollah et le Front al-Nosra (rebaptisé Front Fatah al-Cham), quelque 9, 000 hommes armés et réfugiés syriens devraient se déplacer, ce mercredi 2 août, à Idlib, dans le nord de la Syrie.

One village in Lebanon is hosting more Syrian refugees than the entire United States

KETERMAYA, Lebanon — There is a small village in the mountains of Lebanon that is hosting more Syrian refugees than all 50 US states combined.

Situated at the southern end of the Mount Lebanon range, Ketermaya is a quiet little place surrounded by patches of farmland. Much of the traffic in the area goes to and from a nearby cement factory.

A young boy rides his bicycle at an informal camp for Syrian refugees in Ketermaya, Lebanon.

Richard Hall GlobalPost

It isn’t a particularly wealthy town, but the residents here have taken in thousands of refugees fleeing the war in Syria.

“We have a history of welcoming refugees,” says Ali Tafesh, a local business owner. “In 2006 we did the same,” he adds, referring to the displacement of people caused by Israel’s invasion of southern Lebanon that year.

Tafesh has done more than most. When Syrian families started to arrive in the town in the early days of the civil war, he arranged housing for them. When there were no more places left to stay he offered up his own land.

“We built the first tent for two families. Then more people came and we built a second, and then it just kept growing,” he says.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says more than 350,000 migrants were detected at the EU’s borders between January and August of this year, compared with 280,000 for the whole of 2014. The organization says that many more went in undetected.

European leaders have struggled to find a coherent solution to a worsening refugee crisis within its borders. Germany has led the way, promising to take in half a million refugees annually over several years. Hungary, meanwhile, is in the process of introducing harsh new laws that would target migrants and rushing to build an anti-migrant fence on its southern border.

The US has resettled 1,500 Syrian refugees since war broke out in 2011 (the small village of Ketermaya hit this number in July 2014), and aims for that number to reach 5,000 by the end of the year. President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that he had ordered his administration to prepare for double that number in 2016.

Aid agencies have said this is not enough: Oxfam America had been calling for the US to resettle 70,000 Syrian refugees.

But compared to the crisis facing Lebanon, the numbers reaching Europe are a drop in the ocean.

Sihan and Ibrahim stand with their children outside their home at an informal refugee camp for Syrians in Ketermaya, Lebanon.

Richard Hall / GlobalPost

A warm welcome

There are currently more than one million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon (the actual number of refugees is thought to be much higher). If you include the estimated number of unregistered refugees, Syrians now account for more than a quarter of the country’s population. The Chouf region, where Ketermaya is located, is hosting nearly 60,000 refugees.

In some areas, the influx has put a strain on the local population as they now have to compete for jobs and resources with a greater number of people.

There are no official refugee camps in Lebanon. Instead, refugees are scattered across the country and make their home on whatever land they can find. Some make arrangements with landowners before building their shelters. Others build and then wait for their landlords to arrive, asking for rent.

Tafesh hosts 330 Syrians on his one-acre plot — a stony patch of land on the side of a hill, with olive trees scattered in between makeshift tents. At his own expense, he built a toilet and installed running water into the camp.

He doesn’t charge the residents of this camp, but people like him are in the minority. Most refugees pay rent to landowners, even when their accommodation is little more than a wooden shack.

“I wasn’t using my land for business purposes so I could afford to let people stay here. Others are not so lucky,” says Tafesh.

The crisis is visible all over Lebanon. Mothers beg on the streets of Beirut with their children in tow; others sell their wares by the side of the road. In the north and east of the country settlements are built by the side of the road.

Most of these settlements exist at the mercy of the elements. In the winter they are bashed around and sometimes destroyed by storms, and in the summer they are often too hot to bear staying inside.

‘No other choice’

While some Syrians are making the journey to Europe, others do not have the money or other means to get there. Many of those who fled to Lebanon did so because it was the only option open to them.

Sihan left her hometown of Qusayr with her husband and four children in 2013, after their house was destroyed in a government airstrike. She pulls back the hair of her young son Muhammad to reveal a small scar on the side of his head made by the explosion.

“We have no other choice but to be here,” she says. “We are sitting here with nothing. My husband is not working so we have no money for rent. It’s hard in the winter and in the summer.”

More from GlobalPost: The refugee from Homs who can’t afford to feed his family 

The UN is currently facing a funding shortfall that means refugees here barely have enough to survive on. Sihan and her family receive $13 per person per month from the UN for food, and often it won’t last two weeks.

“Thank God we have this tent,” says Sihan. “Lebanon is not able to look after its own people, how are they going to look after Syrians as well?”

Despite the miserable living conditions for refugees in Lebanon, not everyone wants to go to Europe.

Ahmed, an Arabic literature graduate, came to Lebanon from Damascus suburb of Ghouta three years ago, bringing his wife and two children.  He and a few other camp residents built a school among the tents and now he teaches the children in the camp.

“I don’t want to go to Europe,” he says. Even if someone says I can go I don’t want to.”

He says that going to Europe would make it less likely he would return to Syria one day.

“Everyone loves their country. If the bombing stopped I would go back home. I am here because I want my children to be safe.”

Employment prospects are dim for the camp’s residents. Sihan’s husband Ibrahim can earn $20 a day working in construction, but the work is irregular.

Save the Children was running a school in the area which recently ran out of funding. It is to reopen soon, providing full time education for children up to the age of 12.

Ahmed, a teacher at a school built by residents of the camp in Ketermaya, Lebanon.

Richard Hall / GlobalPost

A dangerous journey

Sihan and Ibrahim say they have thought about going elsewhere, but wonder where they would get the money to move.

When asked if Gulf countries should do more to help Syrian refugees, Ibrahim replies: “In Kuwait, they have big parties with fireworks. The amount they spend on that could feed the Syrian population.”

The couple would like to go to Europe, but they fear the journey is too dangerous.

“We would go if we thought it was safe. We don’t want to get thrown out of a boat,” says Ibrahim.

The whole family is weary from their ordeal. They entered the country illegally by traversing the anti-Lebanon mountains on the border with Syria.

Sihan, it seems, would like to wait a little while longer before making another arduous journey.

“We came over a mountain to get here. We are not ready to do it again.”

More from GlobalPost: A harsh winter for Syrian refugees in Lebanon 




May 2023

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