lunes, 18 de enero de 2016

The refugee crisis you might not have heard of: Lebanon

The refugee crisis you might not have heard of: Lebanon

Welcome to Demography Is Destiny. We launched this to counter two media memes: that humans are a cancer which is destroying our planet and that world population is spiralling to unsustainable levels. The real story is that intelligent and inventive human will rise to the challenge of climate change and that our real problem is the coming demographic winter. The editors of Demography is Destiny are Marcus and Shannon Roberts, who live in Auckland, New Zealand. Send them your comments and suggestions.  - See more at:


The refugee crisis you might not have heard of: Lebanon
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While the migrant crisis in Europe has been getting all of the international attention, a much larger migration from Syria has quietly been underway – to neighbouring Lebanon. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, there are 1.1 million registered refugees living in Lebanon, but many more are not registered with the UN. The total number of refugees could be something in the order of 1.5 million people says Father Paul Karam, president of Caritas Lebanon. All of these people have fled the violence in Syria to a country with a population of just under 4 million and a land area of 10,000 square kilometres. (To put that in perspective Lebanon is two-thirds the size of Conneticut or one-thirtieth the size of New Zealand, or one-third the size of Belgium, or one-quarter the size of get the picture – Lebanon is a very small country.) Thus, one-quarter of the current population of Lebabon is made up of refugees from Syria (and 20,000 from Iraq). Needless to say, Lebanon is home to more refugees per capita than any other nation.

As one can imagine, these huge numbers of refugees are placing large strains on the country. First, there is the religious balance of Lebabon. Lebanese are about 40 percent Christian, 55 percent Muslim (split evenly between Sunni and Shia and 5 percent Druze. Although most of the Iraqi refugees are Christian, the vast majority (97 percent) of the Syrian refugees are Muslim, Father Karam fears that such large numbers will “destabilise” the current Lebanese system. Further “destabilisation” must surely come from the plight of those born whilst in refuge: Syrians born in Lebanon since the outbreak of civil war are stateless and have no identification documents and their births are not registered in either Syria or Lebanon. There are over 65,000 of these stateless children.

And then there's the practical infrastructure. Unbelievably there are no formal refugee camps, instead Syrians establish with the permission of the local municipality informal tent settlements. Luckier refugees find space in aprtments to rent and others squat in abandonded buildings. But life for both refugees and Lebanese is getting harder:

“Even before waves of Syrian refugees began descending upon the country more than four years ago, Lebanon had grappled with shortages in water and electricity.
'You need to have infrastructure in order to help you to help these people,' Father Karam said. 'If you don't have such a strong infrastructure, what shall you do? If the problem will remain and there is no solution in the near future, this will affect more and more the social life and the security life of this country.'...
Yet Lebanon's own population is being squeezed economically.
'The Lebanese have also slipped slowly to poverty under the pressure of competition represented by the increasing supply in the labor market and the increasing demand on goods and services,' said [Michel] Constantin, [regional director for Lebanon, Syria and Egypt for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, an agency of the Holy See].”
It is therefore not suprising that the Lebanese government does not allow refugees to work. Some stil work informally, but if they do they are suciptible to poor conditions and will lose their UNHCR card and residency papers if caught by the Lebanese government. On a brighter note, the Lebanese Ministry of Education has announced that it will make space for 200,000 school-age children in the public school system, a considerable undertaking for a country of Lebanon's size.

All-in-all there is little doubt that Lebanon is ill-equipped to deal with a problem on this scale by itself. And let's not forget, Lebanon has been host to Palestinian refugees for more than 60 years – there about half a million Palestinians in Lebanon
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Growing up I came to understand that Suffragettes were feisty British women who were prepared to chain themselves to the iron railings of government buildings, and be thrown into prison and force-fed in their fight for voting rights for women. I heard about the amazing deed of the firebrand Emily Davison, who threw herself in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913 and was trampled to death. This scene, not surprisingly, features in the film, Suffragette, now in cinemas.
It was all very heroic, though why they had to go to such extremes to gain something that suffrage campaigners in New Zealand, then a British colony, had gained for women here in 1893 by getting up a huge petition, was not at all clear to me. Still, it was nice to know we were first.

What I don’t remember hearing about was the campaign of destruction by British militants that is the focus of our lead article today. I mean, burning down bigwigs’ (empty) country houses and planting bombs in cathedrals… Steady on, ladies!
New Zealand, a tiny new country at the bottom of the world, was of course a different kettle of fish to Britain, with its entrenched social system and international role. A lot of British men didn’t have the vote either when they were sent off to war in 1914 to be blown to bits. Democracy (and revolution) were on the move in the old world and universal suffrage was going to happen anyway. Was Suffragette militancy really necessary?

Carolyn Moynihan
Deputy Editor,

Militant suffragettes: morally justified, or just terrorists?
Janna Thompson | FEATURES | 18 January 2016
Destroying property is hardly the way to show you are fit to govern.
The refugee crisis you might not have heard of: Lebanon
Marcus Roberts | DEMOGRAPHY IS DESTINY | 18 January 2016
One quarter of Lebanon's population is a Syrian refugee.
Freezing your eggs isn’t taking control
Tamara El-Rahi | FAMILY EDGE | 18 January 2016
Sorry ladies: looks like the biological clock still wins.
Killed in Mexico’s drug wars: Honest reporting
Denyse O'Leary | CONNECTING | 16 January 2016
When media are afraid to report the news, there’s another casualty: Informed decision-making and voting.
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