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Posts tagged ‘Syria’

Lebanon vs Syria reloaded

A continuation to lebanon vs syria is needed today. Of course, going online and checking news and blogs from around the world, we see the desolation that has taken place in Syria and the idea of a life in which refugees are thriving daily, especially come winter times.

Hundreds of articles have been written for this cause, these articles being written by arab countries, like AlArabiya where an awful picture of a poor child freezing in one of the camps was taken, and where many others lost their lives, where we also read of U.N Chief Ban Ki-moon making an appeal to help these refugees hiding out on Lebanese soil.

In another article, written by the Washington post, we read of the conditions of life most refugees have on Lebanese soil, we also read of interviews and hear the worry between the lines where some of these refugees might be giving up trying to survive.

Even a video was made by celebrities to help donate money to those refugees in need, and I think (wishfully) that it has helped indeed.

But some things are being forgotten, most people commenting on these articles are not Lebanese, Syrian or Palestinian; and their comments are sometimes wrong and judgmental. I read of those that blame the Lebanese society for not providing for these less fortunate refugees, blaming them for ignoring them, and for closing their eyes to their misery.

But one thing that most Americans, Europeans, or whatever country they are from, forget, or shut their own eyes to, is that the misery extends to Lebanese people living in Lebanon as well. Whoever you are and whatever you think, you have no right to judge citizens that are going through hell in the first place; especially when you don’t have facts about what is happening, or haven’t lived it.

So here are a couple of eye openers for judgers: I’m afraid to walk near my house at night, I live in a relatively secure neighborhood, where as of late refugees have been camping out, I’ve seen random Lebanese men and women being beaten by refugees for 1 000LL (0.75 $); and worst part being when calling the cops to help him/her out, all they would say is, we can’t come, we’re trying to save these other guys in these areas. I’ve had friends’ cars stolen by refugees to later be sent to Syria, as an exchange for their homes not being destroyed or their families being able to cross the border illegally.

Now I understand the car stealing, but only when it happens on the street, with its owner being away; even my mum’s car was stolen a couple of months back, making it hard for us to get by, yet being lucky enough to suffice ourselves. But what about those poor souls driving late at night after a long day at work, trying to get home, getting pulled out of their car and beaten, having a gun shoved at their heads and having their hard work earnings being stolen from them.

Of course not all refugees are that way, and not all would go the extra mile of robbing hard workers of their due just because they need it. Unfortunately how do you know which is what. How can you be sure that this old man you’re sending your clothes to, spending money on when you can barely keep your household going and your children warm, isn’t the one that robbed you from your monthly pay a couple of days ago? We still, as Lebanese, try to do the right thing, we rally up to send extra clothes, food, and blankets to those in need; because after all, we had a civil war for many years, we know what it’s like and we feel a need to help those in need because we didn’t get that help sometimes, and wished we did. But we stay cautious, we keep our distance, and sometimes we close our eyes to what is happening because who knows when and if we will be the ones that need this help at some point in time.

Checking the news we hear of bombs being shot towards Lebanese soil, we hear of Israel building up defenses, we read of politicians enticing their “crowds” to go up against each other, and of course us being so “open-minded” ending up following them like sheep. We have the instability of a schizophrenic country.

So I ask those judging the Lebanese for their somewhat lack of helping refugees, how exactly would you act if you were us?

T.

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Lebanon vs Syria

So I was reading this article about IKEA houses to be sent out to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and I have to say I’m not sure how to feel about it.

Being Lebanese and having lived here my entire life, mixed feelings continuously pop-up when it comes to refugee camps, people without homes, and children with no roofs over their heads or food on their plates.

Having had, what I consider to be, a full and rich education, both from my parents, and school; I am not immune to those less fortunate, always trying to help them, and sometimes even putting them before my own needs. I have been taught to treat people the way I would like to be treated.

So I considered this: if my country were at war, my home destroyed, and my family being killed randomly, sometimes in front of my eyes; I would hope that being a refugee in another country would provide me with a seemingly safe environment in which to await and survive, before being able to move back and reconstruct a life that was taken from me.

But how many more refugees can Lebanon take? Writer Aryn Baker points out the main problem by stating that the Lebanese are “worried that the upgraded housing may just incite refugees to stay”. It’s tough to say I agree with her, but I do in some way.

Of course I disagree on the poor housing these refugees currently have to try and survive winter, it’s inhumane, and my whole system is raging at the idea that these people are going through hell without getting any help from people; but at the same time, my mind is asking me to be aware of all that is taking place due to these refugees.

Lebanon’s economy is already staggering as is, and has been for many years, starting with the Palestinian refugees, followed by wars between it and Israel, as well as a long, never-ending, civil war. When trying to count out the friends I grew up with in high school and college, I notice that the ones that have stayed in Lebanon can be counted on my hands, easily.

Why? Economy! There is no money left in Lebanon, there is no insurance, no safety net for any of us, no jobs left to fill, and when you do find a job, the pay is too low and the work load is too high, and of course, you never know what to expect the next week, day, hour, or minute.

I like to define it as a schizophrenic country. The mood can be shifted easily in a second, just by a few words being uttered by some politician on TV, or some misinterpreted action. Trying to start a business might save your life or might put you on the streets begging for a lira to feed yourself or have a glass of clean water. And as I already mentioned in my previous post …. , we Lebanese got used to living this way (to our own demise).

So after we’ve seen Palestinian refugees camp out on our lands, we rushed to their help like any human would do, and so we have done the same with Syrian refugees, but with limits, being careful to what we do or say, watching our backs and making sure that no one gets too comfortable.

The Lebanese economy is becoming even tougher than it was due to the refugees, taking up jobs that were supposed to be handed to Lebanese. Company owners nowadays prefer having Syrian cheap labor replace their college graduates to be able to save a couple of Lebanese pounds; instead of hiring one painter to paint a wall for 200 000 LL ( average to 133 $), the owner hires 3 painters to finish the job faster for 150 000 LL (100 $), each receiving 50 000LL. Now of course the job might not be done as well as the one painter that studied it, but it still might help for later when the client will need maintenance and re-painting.

Greedy, greedy, Lebanese; yet we never learn, that it’s not about saving a lira or two, but about providing each Lebanese with a job that will suffice him and his family to survive instead of keeping their own brothers out on the streets. Now of course jobs need to be handed to refugees as well, to help them provide for their own families, though not over the bodies of your own people.

I’m not sure how to explain it exactly, but I hope the idea is clear enough to see the other side of that story. But with this logic I think it becomes more understandable as to why the Lebanese community refuses to provide the refugees with more stable housing such as the IKEA tent.

They fear for their own children, it’s a parent’s thing, but it makes sense after all.

T.

What is horror?

Roaming through my Facebook newsfeed a couple of days ago, I came across this article that has been going around in Lebanon.
The article was written by a fellow Lebanese, expressing his disgust and the inhumanity of what has been going on in Tripoli.

The article named: “Tripoli: Horror after Horror” click here to readdoes not, however, talk about the issue going on; when I saw this title I thought someone is finally pointing out the micro war taking place in our country. To my surprise it wasn’t; it is simply about the issues of slaying stray dogs all over Tripoli.

Don’t get me wrong I fully agree that it is a crime indeed to slay stray dogs randomly just for fun, but at the same time I think the writer missed the point by quite a margin when talking about horror.

Horror is seeing neighbors shoot at and kill each other for pathetic excuses, horror is suicide bombings in civilian neighborhoods, horror is seeing children slain on the sides of the road from an explosive car, horror is human beings killing other human beings.

This is true horror.

Horror is what we Lebanese see and live with on a daily basis, and for the past two years Syria has been going though the same horror.  

Here is the status of a friend on Facebook that describes part of this horror we have survived through: (S.L)

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Some of the bombings and killings weren’t mentioned or the list would have taken up at least 10 pages; and in each assassination, bombing, and attack hundreds of civilians were killed (not mentioned either).
The catchphrase at the end of the list says: “Vote for the same idiots (donkeys) you idiots then blame the country”; quite an interesting perspective on things, don’t you agree?
A bit off subject, as you all know the Lebanese people are famous for making jokes out of each situation, so here’s an image that’s being sent through Whatsapp groups as well as Facebook; this picture made me laugh at first, agree next, and finally tore me up:

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I’m honestly worrying about the people’s views when it comes to horror, disasters, wars, bombings, killings, and natural tragedies.

Take for example what happened in the Philippines, a natural tragedy, killing hundreds of people, destroying their homes and belongings; people run to help them (including me), we run to their rescue, send money, food, and medical supplies. We pity them = it’s horror.

But put that story in perspective with what’s happening in Syria; it’s a war, there are bombings, killings, thousands of people dying everyday, survivors loosing their homes, having to hunt stray dogs for food, drinking water off the streets in order to survive: so how do we react? We judge, we don’t pity; we say it’s on them, it’s their own fault; we don’t help cause we don’t want them to think that we are okay with what is happening = it’s not horror, it’s shameful.

I see them in a different way, first to be clear on a few things I would help both countries, I would pity both, one for having been subjected to a natural disaster (at least that’s what we call it when nature overrides and destroys humans, but after all it is a simple hurt reaction for what we humans have been subjecting it to – that would be another post by itself), the other for having been subjected to forceful harming ways, inflicted to them by other human beings: this is the true horror (in my point of view).

Imagine yourself walking down a street with your friend when a sniper blasts your friend’s brain on you, or driving down a street, you notice a guy speeding, hear a loud explosion, then notice that if that poor soul hadn’t been in a hurry he would have survived the bomb explosion like you have.

This is inhumane.

It was veteran’s day a couple of weeks ago, when all Americans praised their soldiers; I’m not saying they should be criminalized for killing other humans, after all they enlisted freely and decided to fight; but what about these poor children in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, these kids that should be in school standing on the roads, getting killed with no hope of fighting back, with no hope of protection, no ammunition or shelter; I doubt they chose war, and doubt they ever would.

It’s a sad note for Lebanon once again, but I’m keeping my hopes up, because if we give up, how can we wish our children a bright future when we let darkness settle on our grounds.

Open your eyes, this is horror.

T.

Simple act

Lebanese people, you never cease to surprise me.
Sitting at a pub a couple of days ago, I noticed an old highschool friend sitting by himself at a table outside, so I decided to invite him to join me and N while he waits for his friends to join in. H.M, I hope you will read this, that night you did something that amazed me (which might explain why I kept staring at you after returning to my seat – so sorry about that).

Me: Hey! Why you sitting here alone? Come join me and N at the bar
Him: no am good, waiting for some friends plus keeping an eye on the flower boy’s flowers.
Me: it’s cool, just get them in with you, I don’t think he’ll mind… but why did he leave them with you anyways?
Him: oh, I’m helping in teaching him how to take professional pictures, so I pass him my camera then we’ll check the angles together.
Me: *speechless*  ok cool, if you change your mind you’re still welcome to join.

All I can say is Wow, on some many levels and in so many ways.
The first Wow goes to the extent of your trust towards a young homeless guy in giving him your pro camera for a ride.
The second Wow goes to the young man’s ethical values and respect of other’s property and goods.
The third Wow goes to you helping him out and extending to him your knowledge with no strings attached.

Simply WOW all over.

Lately with all the Syrian refugees taking over Lebanese streets, I’ve received more than once news of theft through open car windows. But seeing H.M simply lend his camera (probably worth a lot) with no leverage and with full trust simply blew my mind. Living in an unstable country such as Lebanon, we got used to being edgy over whom to trust and whom not to.
But I strongly believe the best way to find out whom you can trust and whom you can’t is by simply trusting blindly (but not fully), show the other that you do have complete trust in them, and hope that they will have the decency, if not moral obligation, to return your trust by proving themselves worthy of it.

A pin-point though, I’ve heard many tourists come to Lebanon say it’s such an unsafe place where you can’t trust anyone, but I’ve been around and seen a lot, where keeping your phone in your inside pocket might still get stolen, and where keeping your belongings one second unseen might get them to disappear.
In Lebanon I keep my phone on the table, go dance or pass to the toilet and still find it there when I get back. So please, I hope you can finally break this stereotype; knowing that there will always be those exceptions to the rule. But the way I see it those guys, Lebanese and Syrians alike, have been through a lot lately, judging won’t help. So bear with us, we’re trying to pull through as much as you.

It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to take a lot of time; you might even find your trust broken a few times. But maybe one day we’ll get to the point where we’ll feel comfortable enough to trust each other and know that our faith in the other is followed by respect.

So on a brighter note; H.M, I wish you and your friend the best of luck in your endeavors, and hope that one day I’ll get a chance to check out these pictures.

T.

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