Last Wednesday, the US pledged to donate $140 million to Lebanon to fund clean water and health programs to Syrian refugees and host communities. Currently, the US has provided $1.5 billion out of the projected $2.8 billion needed to cover the costs of supporting almost 2 million new inhabitants.
Despite these efforts, violence broke out in Beirut as a result of growing tensions between natives and the incoming Syrian refugee population. Lebanon continues to hold the world’s highest concentration of refugees per capita, and many feel as though this influx is threatening economic stability.
In light of the misconceptions surrounding the refugee crisis, Nasser Yassin, a professor of public policy and international affairs at American University of Beirut, launched a Twitter campaign to “counter inflammatory rhetoric about Syrian refugees in Lebanon” by using a research-based approach. His aim is to provide accurate and reliable information to the public in daily facts. Yassin has uncovered that - contrary to popular belief - refugees have not deflated the Lebanese economy. Yassin indicates that 80% of the population are women and children, most of whom are not seeking employment in the labor force. Those who found factory jobs are mainly increasing the productivity of local businesses, which are hiring refugees for lower wages. Though the Lebanese government has lost revenue from Syrian tourism, it gains $1 million daily from refugee camp rent and $22 million monthly from payments for food. Yassin suggests that refugees should be viewed as assets, not burdens. The importance of documenting accurate facts may allow for better consideration in foreign policies and global implications.
Abdallah, Hassan. "U.S. pledges extra $140 million to Lebanon for Syrian refugees." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 26 July 2017. Web. 30 July 2017. <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-us-aid-idUSKBN1AB15M>.
Bajec, Alessandra. "Bringing facts back to Lebanon's refugee conversation." Syria | Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, 26 July 2017. Web. 30 July 2017. <http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/07/bringing-facts-lebanon-refugee-conversation-170710113854403.html>.
Kechichian, Joseph A. "Syrian refugees overburden Lebanon." GulfNews. Gulfnews, 29 July 2017. Web. 30 July 2017. <http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/lebanon/syrian-refugees-overburden-lebanon-1.2065760>.