Away from politics, prejudices and our stance on the terrorist regime in Syria-not on the Syrian people despite the fact that some of them support the president of the inherited regime- it's important to address the case of Syrian refugees arriving in Lebanon from a scientific and a realistic perspective.
This issue drives us to strongly consider the results and repercussions of asylum. Some will see that it has positive results for certain, limited economic sectors.
It's said that the number of Syrian refugees has reached around 1.5 million whilst the number of those officially registered has reached around 750,000. Regardless of these refugees' financial and social situations, they make up 40% of the total number of the Lebanese people, in addition to the Palestinian refugees who have been a huge burden for a long time now. This is a timed bomb waiting to go off in a country with Lebanon’s land mass. The economy is deteriorating amid the current circumstances which means that Lebanon will not be able to contain all of these refugees if the Syrian crisis is not resolved soon.
Too much to bear
Despite the aid being provided to refugees, medical expenses in governmental hospitals are the responsibility of the Lebanese state through the ministry of health. These expenses have doubled several times. The percentage of sick Syrians in makes up about 20% of patients. Hospitals have opened their doors for patients needing dialysis and treatment of other chronic diseases. However, many Lebanese cannot afford a hospital bed at the expense of the ministry of health or to get admitted to a governmental hospital.
No Lebanese wants to live through this experience as there are no guarantees that it will end.Nayla Tueni
Two days ago, we saw that the Lebanese authorities has shut down 55 out of 370 shops or small industrial businesses in Beqaa, most of which brought employees, equipment and raw material from their countries with them. In other words, whether these businesses have a permit or not, the competition has greatly increased and now harms owners of small businesses in Lebanon. Banning the depositing of Syrian funds in Lebanese banks upon international sanctions deprived the country of the chance to benefit from the funds transferred from one country to another.
On an educational level, public schools are facing a big problem as they no longer have room for more students, especially in the areas where there are a lot of refugees. The number of students in public schools in Lebanon is about 300,000 and the number of Syrian refugee children is also 300,000. If the Syrian refugee children do not go to school they will turn into homeless children.
Despite the benefits of establishing camps as it allows control of the refugees' movement and the opportunity to count them properly, Lebanon's anguish due to temporary camps that may turn permanent is displayed before us. No Lebanese wants to live through this experience as there are no guarantees that it will end.
This is the tip of the iceberg of the crisis resulting from refugees in a country that's bleeding and that does not have the capability to bear more hardship. The country does not have the time for media outbids on this case because most of the time what's announced does not express real responsibility but temporary political gains that do not elevate to the country's level.
This article was first published in Annahar on September 2, 2013.
Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and one of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni