Lebanon: hostility grows towards Syrian refugees

By June 20, 2019

Lebanon (MNN) – The Lebanese government continues to increase pressures on Syrian refugees to return to Syria. Attempts to send Syrians home include raids on refugee camps, arrests at checkpoints, and restricting refugees to temporary settlements. Another glitch–refugees need to carry legal papers. However, the necessary papers are often difficult to obtain.

(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Why is Lebanon pushing back so intensely against the Syrian refugees? The answer is the current economy, security, violence, and crime rates. The Lebanese people are tired and tense, and hostility is brewing.

Still, Nuna with Triumphant Mercy says the country’s reactions have made the Syrian refugees feel unsafe.

“[Lebanon] had a demonstration. People went on the streets and just demanded that Syrians go back home. We had banners saying ‘Syria is safe, go back home’, ‘we don’t want you here’…The situation is escalating in Lebanon.”

Returning Home Complications

But for refugees, returning home to Syria is not simple. Prematurely sending Syrian refugees home could cause more problems. If Syrians return home today, the men will probably either be imprisoned or forced into the army. Their sons could expect a similar future. Even if this threat did not exist, rebuilding takes finances, and money is something most refugee families lack.

“We are just trying to work in between but nobody really knows what the situation would be like and how long it will take. [It might be] three months, maybe six months, maybe a year. I don’t know,” Nuna says.

(Photo courtesy of Triumphant Mercy)

Triumphant Mercy balances obeying Lebanon’s laws with offering help in the Bekaa Valley and in Beirut. For them, that means providing informal education for refugee children.

Now, Nuna is searching for a way to legitimize this education through certificates or testing.

“We have contacted people inside Syria that could arrange for kids to come and do official exams inside Syria. That’s a new thing that we’re trying to do because that would help them when they go back home, to continue their studies…We do what we can for at least securing a future for some of the kids, securing a future for some of the families,” Nuna explains.

Triumphant Mercy is also connecting Syrian refugees with possible church contacts in Syria. These contacts can help welcome the refugees home and offer support when the time comes to rebuild their lives.

Refugees Find Hope

However, one of the greatest gifts Triumphant Mercy provides is an opportunity to know Christ’s love. Along with informal education, Triumphant Mercy also offers Bibles camps and Bibles studies for the kids and adults in the refugee camps.

“We have so many new brothers in the faith just around us. It’s amazing and we’re trying to even intensify this,” Nuna says.

(Photo courtesy of Triumphant Mercy Lebanon)

Still, hopelessness is penetrating the camps. People tell Nuna they feel abandoned by God because of their circumstances. A lot of refugees struggle to think about life beyond the surviving today. (Read about the effects of trauma here.)

But, Nuna counters this with, “this is where we come [in] and just install hope…we’re here for you. We [were] sent by God for you.”

Pray for opportunity and hope for the Syrian refugees’ futures. Ask God to strengthen Triumphant Mercy as it works on shifting ground. Pray the ministry clearly presents the Gospel and meets the need of those it serves. Pray for Lebanon’s economy, for the Lebanese anger to dissipate, and for peace between the Lebanese and Syrian refugees.

Learn more about Triumphant Mercy’s ministry here.



Header photo courtesy of EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
via Flickr.

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