Syrian refugees’ homes demolished in Lebanese camps
Syrian refugee families who have already lost almost everything have had their homes destroyed in dawn raids by Lebanon’s military.
Twenty families had their homes demolished on Monday, and more are expected to be targeted. Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have their homes under threat.
The move follows a declaration by Lebanon’s military in April that any “semi-permanent structures” built by Syrian refugees using materials other than timber and plastic sheeting must be deconstructed by their inhabitants, or they would be destroyed.
The community of Arsal was identified as the first where the declaration would be enforced, and an initial deadline in June was extended to July the 1st.
Aid agencies working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon – including World Vision – have condemned the move.
Depriving refugees of their already very basic shelter and leaving them out on the streets is not a solution.
Arsal suffers from extreme weather, flooding and harsh winters, and forcing refugees into simple tents creates substantial health and safety risks.
Aid agencies call on the Lebanese authorities to continue to show compassion to refugees who depend on Lebanon for their safety and dignity.
If demolitions are to continue, at a bare minimum the authorities must give alternatives to refugees, allow them to retain their personal belongings and give them more time to place their families in safety.
Schools, health facilities, and water and sanitation structures must be protected.
Notes to editors:
In April, the Higher Defense
Council, a military body, declared that all
“semi-permanent structures” built by Syrian refugees
using materials other than timber and plastic sheeting in
informal camps must be deconstructed. Orders were given to
implement this decision in Arsal first. Refugees were given
until June 9 to bring their homes into compliance, after
which any non-compliant structures will be demolished. The
deadline was then extended to July 1st. As of June 27, less
than half of refugees homes in Arsal had been demolished by
their inhabitants, out of a total of more than 2,700
Between 2,500 and 3,000 units would be directly impacted by the demolitions. As each unit houses on average 5 people, including 3 children, that would be between 12,500 and 15,000 people, including 7,500 to 9,000 children.