Alerts, News and Background from Lebanon
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Edited by Inga Schei and Lokman Slim
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Lebanon's Founding Myth Tested Once Again
Five Years of Syrian Asylum in Lebanon

Back in November 2011, Syria's ambassador to Lebanon publicly denied the presence of any refugees on Lebanese soil. Rather than recognizing that these people had been forced to flee their homes and their home country for the sake of their safety, the ambassador instead considered them simply as “visitors” who were engaging with their relatives on the "other" side of the border.

Fast forward to December 2015, when we saw a regional-level deal engineered to facilitate an exchange of “prisoners” between the Lebanese authorities and an-Nusra Front. Interestingly, the terms of that deal included actions to be taken in behalf of the several thousand homeless Syrians stranded in what has become a Lebanese-Syrian no-man’s-land outside the infamous town of Orsal (northeast of Lebanon).

In other words, while it took Lebanon several years, the country finally seems to have come full circle with respect to its "Syrian refugee issue." This slow, arduous pivot away from the State's longstanding denial of the "problem" (which corresponds with the typical Lebanese mind-set regarding denial) led ultimately to the country's de facto admission of its existence. One might remark cynically on this apparent about-face by saying, better late than never.

This report, among several deliverables that accompanied a partnership between Hayya Bina and Konrad-Adenaur-Stiftung (which also included extensive documentation and fieldwork), serves as a primer on the convoluted progression of this "issue" from 2011 to 2015. As readers will certainly note, while the perspectives on Syrian asylum in Lebanon have slowly changed, the prospects for their resolution in the near term are nothing short of grim!

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