BACKGROUND INFORMATION LEBANON
Not many people realize that Lebanon is a very small country, it is only a quarter of the size of the Netherlands.
On this piece of land lives an estimated 4.8 million Lebanese. In the past years, 1.5 million Syrians have been added. Without any prospect of returning to their own country, they stay in illegal tent cities by farmers in the countryside (despite the harsh Lebanese winters). Or they try to rent an apartment in the city.
With these figures it is not difficult to imagine how much pressure has been placed on Lebanon.
For example, look at the job market. Due to the enormous numbers of Syrian labourers it has become virtually impossible for the normal Lebanese to find a job. Highly-educated Syrians, whose diplomas are not recognized in Lebanon, take the jobs of the lower-educated Lebanese: the former accountant is now working in a falafel bar. But the housing market is also under pressure. Due to the large numbers of people in need of housing the rent prices have shot up. Old apartments where nothing works are now rented for 500 dollars a month.
Syrians have no right to health care or the educational system in Lebanon. And even if they would have that right, there is no place for them. For that reason many Syrian children have not been to school for years. And should they become ill and in need of hospital care, that isn't possible without paying for their treatment up front in cash.
Labour, education and housing are the concrete examples of the direct results for the local residents and the refugees. But what also is simmering are the underlying tensions between the various populations such as the Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Kurds and the Alevi. Due to the flood of the people from Syria, the underlying relationships have shifted and the minorities are feeling threatened. They can still vividly remember the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) because the roots of that were virtually the same.
In this project Philip and I have not sought for answers. The problem of Syria is too layered to come up with any simple solutions. But after hearing all of the stories, the concept of ‘accommodation in the region’ seems rather naive. With nearly 10 million fleeing Syrians it has become impossible for the neighbouring countries to continue carrying the burden of this any longer.
What is going on in Syria and why?
This animation of 5 minutes clearly explains the events that have led to the ongoing civil war in Syria.
The connection between Syria and Lebanon
With war in Syria threatening to spill over into Lebanon, this film of 47 minutes examines the two countries' shared history. Will this period affect the future of Lebanon?