Erin Taylor 267.250.8829 (M)
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Nov. 8, 2017) – The eviction of some 6,000 Syrian
refugees, including an estimated 3,200 children, living on the outskirts of
Beirut must be stopped immediately, Save the Children said today.
In recent weeks, the
refugees, who have been living in rented private accommodations in the
al-Hadath neighborhood, were given eviction notices by the local authorities
and told they must leave their home in just 10 days, allegedly for violating
Lebanon’s Labour Law.
So far, at least 28
families have already had to leave and many still haven’t found an alternative
place to stay. Those who have stayed are appealing the decision but many are
facing increasing pressure to leave and fear they will be thrown out onto the
streets in the coming days.
Tarek,* a resident who has been given
an eviction notice said: “We were told to leave because Syrians were not
welcome in the area. I had to move out before I got kicked out. I couldn’t
imagine being forced to leave in the middle of the night like others were, so I
saved my dignity and left with my wife.
“My 11-month-old baby was in the hospital
receiving treatment at the time. I have also lost my job as a result. The
situation is very desperate. I am worried about my family. I am not sure how we
will get by."
The evictions are the first
to hit the area but come amid growing calls for Syrian refugees to return to
Syria, and follow on from various reports of evictions elsewhere in Lebanon.
The evictions risk putting
extremely vulnerable children in further danger, as families now face ending up
on the streets as the harsh winter approaches. The evictions will also force
many children to drop out of school, and are likely to severely affect their
physical and psychological wellbeing.
“These evictions are having
an unimaginable toll on very vulnerable children who have already been uprooted
from their homes at least once, suffered through war and extreme violence and
now face the trauma of losing their homes once again,” said Allison Zelkowitz,
Save the Children’s Country Director in Lebanon.
“If the evictions are not
halted, these children could become destitute and homeless and risk losing what
little sense of safety and normality they have had.
“More than six years ago
Lebanon welcomed these children and provided them a place of refuge. The
country has been extremely generous in its support and has lived up to its
obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but it cannot
turn its back on refugee children now. It must continue to protect these
children, not kick them out onto the streets. We call on the municipal and
national authorities to immediately stop these evictions before more children
are put at risk.”
Since the outbreak of the
war in Syria, Lebanon has taken in more than 1 million registered refugees, who
now make up some 25 to 30 percent of the total population. International donors
have failed to provide enough support to host countries, with the regional
refugee response less than 50 percent funded.
Many of the children in
al-Hadath have managed to enrol at schools in the area, however after being
evicted they may face challenges finding new places. Many schools in Lebanon
are full, and across the country nearly half a million Syrian refugee children
are out of school.
Save the Children has
worked in Lebanon since 1953. Last year we supported nearly 400,000 people –
including 225,000 children – by providing education, shelter, child protection,
and projects to improve families’ livelihoods and children’s rights. The
organization works with Lebanese and Syrian communities across the country. As
the evictions go ahead, Save the Children is preparing to provide financial
support to evicted families to help them meet their children’s most critical
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.