BEIRUT, Lebanon, June 12 (NNN-NNA) – Around 700 Syrian refugees fled from Deir El Ahmar in Bekaa, after they attacked members of the Civil Defence in the town a week earlier, said Jean Fakhry, head of the Deir al-Ahmar Municipalities Union, on Tuesday.
Fakhry said that, civil defence members came to Deir El Ahmar last Wednesday, to extinguish a fire that broke out in one of the town’s camps, which caused heavy dust, prompting Syrian refugees to complain about it by screaming and throwing stones at the civil defence’s vehicle.
“The Syrian refugees were very angry that they ended up beating two members of the civil defence,” Fakhry said.
Fakhry noted that the refugees fled from Deir El Ahmar out of fear of potential repercussions from the locals.
“We did not oblige anyone to leave. Refugees packed their stuff and fled, out of fear that the Lebanese in the area would react to their attack against the civil defence members,” Fakhry explained.
“Around 90 percent of these refugees work in agriculture with Lebanese farmers, residing close to Deir El Ahmar; so they have moved to stay with these farmers,” he said.
“We are not against Syrian refugees; they are welcome in our towns but on condition that they behave peacefully,” he said.
According to Fakhry, Deir El Ahmar hosts around 6,000 Syrian refugees.
More than one million Syrian refugees are registered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Lebanon, while the Lebanese government estimated the true number of Syrians in the country at 1.5 million.
Fakhry noted that local people in Deir El Ahmar have become very upset because their financial situation has deteriorated after the flow of Syrian refugees to their town.
“The Syrian refugees competed with the Lebanese for job opportunities in the town,” he said.
“The problem that took place in Deir El Ahmar started as a simple problem but its impact was very big because the Lebanese in this area are already suffering from dire financial circumstances and they are aware that Syrians are the ones who are taking their jobs,” he said.
The Syrians used to work in construction only, but when real estate sector slowed down, they moved to other sectors including agriculture which has exacerbated the situation.
The reason behind the delay in the return of the refugees to their homeland is the unwillingness of the international community to help in this regard.– NNN-NNA