Communities Hosting Syrian Refugees Burdened With Deteriorating Economic Situation

Wednesday, 23 January, 2019 - 13:30
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat

A group of residents of Arsal - a border town in eastern Lebanon - threw stones at shops and cars of Syrian refugees, damaging some of them, and lashed out at Syrians who were passing on their motorcycles on the streets of the town, according to videos circulated on social media. These moves were preceded by a sit-in by dozens of young people against Syrian workers, in the wake of the worsening economic crisis in the country.

Arsal, which is predominantly inhabited by Sunni residents, was known to provide a welcoming environment for the displaced. It also supported the Syrian opposition fighters with the outbreak of the crisis in 2011, specifically those who were fighting in the Syrian areas bordering Lebanon.

However, the deterioration of economic conditions and the big flow of the displaced over the past years have led to the escalation of protests against the Syrian competition over the Lebanese labor force.

A video on social networking sites showed a number of young men throwing stones at shop windows and cars of some Syrian refugees. The National News Agency (NNA) said that a group of residents organized a sit-in to protest against the Syrian workers and the deterioration of the economic conditions in the town. The demonstrators called for organizing the Syrian labor in favor of the local working force.

The mayor of Arsal, Bassel al-Hujairi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that about 30 young people, mostly teenagers, were behind attacks against the displaced, adding that the security forces soon intervened to resolve the matter.

Minister of State for the Displaced Mouin al-Merhebi said that the situation in Arsal was no longer acceptable due to the presence of large numbers of shops managed by Syrians, pointing out that he held a series of meetings with the ministers of labor and economy to control the situation.

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