Archive for September 7th, 2012

07/09/2012

Lebanon-Syria, ‘The Refugee Minefield’

Human Wrongs Watch

By IRIN*, Beirut – Progress in terms of providing more and better aid to the steady influx of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is being held back by government indecision stemming from fears that the ongoing violence in Syria may destabilize the country’s fragile politics.

**Syrian refugees have taken shelter at a makeshift tent camp set up for Syrian seasonal labourers in Al Qaa, Lebanon | Photo: Courtesy of Freedom House | IRIN

Sectarian clashes in the northern city of Tripoli in recent weeks have left at least 15 dead and 120 wounded, and while politicians on all sides have pleaded for calm, many view the refugees as a security threat.

Gen Ibrahim Bachir, secretary-general of the High Relief Commission (HRC), an aid agency in the prime minister’s office (originally set up to coordinate post-war reconstruction in 2006), said his first priority was “keeping this country safe”.

Tension in Lebanon is high: Michel Samaha, a former minister of information with close ties to Damascus, was arrested on 9 August on charges of plotting bomb attacks in the north, including one targeting the Maronite patriach.

Nevertheless, all major parties seem to have an interest in keeping the situation stable.

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