Since the early days of the conflict in Syria, Lebanon was the first haven for those who were obliged to leave their homes in towns close to the Syrian Lebanese borders. Later when the intensity increased, numbers rapidly increased until we started speaking about millions of Syrians in Lebanon.
Lebanon has a population of approximately 3 million people. According to official statistics, it hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees, while some experts talk about more than 2 million. Moving there, they have created a new market and very obviously changed the social and economic life in Lebanon. Many Lebanese were not pleased with reality and considered that this is a burden they cannot take, others went on to say that Syrians robbed Lebanese people of job opportunities, or than Syrian women were ‘kidnapping”’ Lebanese men for themselves. But those racist and discriminating calls did not mute the incredible and generous act of other Lebanese who hurried to help with all their might wherever possible. Many tried to raise awareness on social media about the dangers of that racism and mistreatment of Syrians.
This altogether created a tension between the two people where both became too critical of each other, not only among the public, but also politicians. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said last April that the crisis of Syrian refugees has reached its “peak” and that his country is close to “collapse” due to the huge pressure of 1.5 million who entered Lebanon during the past few years.
In the midst of this wave of arguments, a recent campaign has revealed some interesting facts about what change have taken place in Lebanese economy with the arrival of Syrians there. According to recent American University in Beirut statistics, Syrian refugees in Lebanon annually pay approximately $378 million for house rent alone. Nasser Yassin, Director of Research at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at AUB, tweeted that Syrians participate to Lebanese economy with about $1.04 million daily. In a Tweet he explains that “Syrians annual pay $378 million approximately for house rent in Lebanon, which means $1.04 million a day”
In a campaign titled “Fact of the Day” he stated that Syrians helped create more than 12,000 job opportunities for Lebanese in 2016 alone as part of the plan to deal with the refugee crisis in the country. Most of those jobs were in UN night schools specially made for children of Syrian refugee.
This campaign comes amidst a huge wave of anger in Lebanon accusing Syrians of being the reason behind the ‘deterioration’ of the country’s economy.