Friday, July 10, 2015

Lebanon closes the doors to the displaced

Lebanon closes the doors to the displaced
By: ETHEL BONET | 12:45 am | July 10, 2015 Um Asim and his grandson in the temporary settlement in Zahle (Bekaa Valley), where 16 families also live longer.
Photo: Ethel Bonet

The Syrians must apply for entry visa categories of tourist, business and study. Um Asim and his grandson in the temporary settlement in Zahle (Bekaa Valley), where 16 families also live longer. Um Asim resigned look skyward, hoping that there is a heat wave. The winter was hard, cold and snow. Now the sun travels all over the diaphanous landscape, without allowing a shelter or shade for garrisoned.

This temporary settlement in Zahle (Bekaa Valley), 17 large families living east of Ghoutta, in the suburbs of Damascus, one of the areas that were attacked with chemical weapons in August 2013.

Um Asim's family came to Lebanon two years ago. Her husband, Abu Asim, he found a temporary job as a laborer. One day, working on land, she saw a lot and decided to settle there. (See also: In Syria, the worst tragedy of displaced people in 25 years, says the UN)

"We did not know anything of NGOs. So I borrowed money from everyone I knew and when I raised $ 2,000, rent the land and build stores for us and the family of my daughter, "recalls Abu Asim, before adding that it is still paying the debts. Then came new families of Ghoutta the settlement, and humanitarian organizations helped to improve conditions, providing kitchen kits, latrines, mattresses and blankets, and water tanks.

Like most Syrian refugees, the family relies on aid from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Abu Asim is concerned that no longer find work. In addition to the daily difficulties, now they face legal complications. Lebanon, with a population of 4'200.000 inhabitants, hosts between 1,200,000 and 1,500,000 Syrians, according to UNHCR, representing one of every five people is a refugee.

As a country not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Syrians who have fled the war in their country there are limited legal protection when applying for asylum in Lebanon. Due to the high number of refugees per capita, the Lebanese authorities have established new regulations since January forcing the Syrians to pay a $ 200 fee per person to renew their stay or otherwise, should leave Lebanon.

Under the new legislation Lebanese, Syrians must apply for an entry visa to the categories of tourist, business, study or medical treatment. They also need to present a letter of invitation from a Lebanese and a rental agreement, along with a written consent of the owner of the property. Similarly, the temporary residence permit not allowed to work, so those Syrians who aspire to work must pay the work permit.

The new regularization and renewal of residence leave most Syrians in legal limbo. Even if they are registered at the offices of UNHCR, the UN agency can not offer any protection. The situation is worse for those who entered the country through unofficial border edges. This is the case of Abu Amjad, 31. His father and brothers have been jailed and his name was on the blacklist, so, if crossed the official border Masna, the authorities would have stopped.

Abu Amjad must pay a penalty of $ 650 and leave the country. If returned to Syria he will probably be arrested and go to jail.

"All countries have the right to decide who enters or not its territory. But implore the Lebanese authorities to reconsider their position and not restrict entry only to urgent humanitarian cases, "he told TIME Ninette Kelley, the head of UNHCR in Lebanon.

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