Syrian Refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa Fear Return

Monday, 13 May, 2019 - 06:45
Bekaa (Lebanon) - Sanaa Al-Jack

The sign “Supermarket, Shop, Grocery” is written on top of a tent located at the entrance of a Syrian refugee camp in eastern Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, which hosts around 400,000 Syrians who have fled their country’s war.

The “strategic” location of the supermarket tent is an indication of the power its owner wields. His son was born in Lebanon 15 years ago, unlike the camp's other Syrians, who are all refugees.

There are around 72 tents with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) written on them.

According to the UNHCR, 88 percent of refugees want to return to their homeland. However, the displaced Syrians are hesitant, not because they are waiting for a political solution or the reconstruction process in Syria, but they are rather concerned over their properties and documentation papers, in addition to their legal status back home.

At the camp, a Shawish or officer is seen as the link between the camp and the outside world. The brother of the supermarket owner, Ahmad Taleb, assumes this mission and he explains to Asharq Al-Awsat the reasons behind the refugees’ fears to return to Syria.

“We do not only fear war and the regime, but also gangsters who prepare false reports accusing us of being terrorists, and have us arrested although I haven’t engaged any political activity against the State,” Taleb said.

He explained that the refugees’ needs are met at the camp. “The UN is helping us,” Taleb said, adding that sometimes, refugees work in agriculture and receive a daily wage of $4.

Most refugees in the Bekaa camp came from villages in the countryside of Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and Homs.

Aisha, a refugee at the camp, said she fears returning to Syria because the future became vague with the death of her husband. “Here, it is safe. When our villages become secure and when our houses are rebuilt, we will return,” she said, adding that her family used to plant wheat in Syria.

“What will become of us if we do not recuperate our land there?” she asked.

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