Opinion | Editorials

Lebanon sinking under refugees from Syria

Mikati does not have enough authority to take the steps needed to give his country a new direction

  • By Gulf News
  • Published: 20:00 March 22, 2013
  • Gulf News

Lebanese infrastructure is slowly collapsing under the strain of coping with more than a million Syrian refugees, fleeing the bitter war in their own country. Every day, more people in desperate conditions are pouring over the border and there is little hope that they will be able to return home in the near future. Many of these suffering people had got out just before their homes were destroyed by shelling or bombing and they would have little to go back to when the fighting stops.

Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, has thanked the Lebanese government for keeping its borders open to the 8,000 new Syrian refugees who are crossing into Lebanon every day at the moment. In the two years since the Syrian civil war started in 2011, more than one million refugees have come to live in Lebanon, which is more than 25 per cent of Lebanon’s indigenous population.

The problem the Lebanese government faces is that mere words of thanks from the UN do not help the situation on the ground as hundreds of thousands of new residents need water, electricity and food. All this has to come from somewhere. Lebanon was simply not prepared for such a vast influx. Already the supplies are failing and the local population is starting to suffer.

It does not help that the government is weak. Prime Minister Najeeb Mikati has been in office since 2011, when he replaced former prime minister, Saad Hariri, after ministers loyal to the March 8 alliance resigned, forcing the government’s collapse. Growing tensions led to a clash last week between supporters of Hezbollah and Sunni preacher, Shaikh Ahmad Assir, in Sidon which left three people dead.

Mikati does not have enough authority to take the decisive steps that are needed to give his country a new political direction, as well as cope with the largest refugee crisis that Lebanon has had since the Palestinians first arrived in the country — triggering political unrest that led to the disastrous civil war.

Gulf News

Opinion Editor's choice
  • OPN_140915 Teacher
    Evolution of teaching in fast-changing world

    What is needed is a paradigm shift among teachers and educators that this globalised, digitally connected 
and fluid world needs new minds. Teaching must change to adapt to the new realities

  • OPN_140915 India PM Modi to US
    A big moment ahead for US-India ties

    Modi has made no secret of his desire to make a new place for India in the world’s imagination so it is essential Obama contemplates India without the shadow of US interests in Pakistan and China

  •  Senkaku
    China’s patient assault on the global order

    No one believes that Japan, US and their other Asian allies have formulated a workable strategy for responding to Beijing’s ambitions

Technology vs humanity

Is technology not a match for mans cunning?

Quick Links

  1. Business

  2. Sport

  3. The latest Entertainment news

  4. The latest Lifestyle stories

  5. Blogs

  6. Opinion

In Opinion

  1. Meet Our Writers

  2. Columnists

  3. Editorials

  4. Off the Cuff

  5. Your say

  6. Speak Your Mind

Latest Columns

  1. Is it a dawn of a peace deal after Gaza war?

  2. Africa’s daunting challenge

  3. UK needs unity, not a messy break-up

  4. Afghan election and the final showdown

  5. The man who would be king

  6. Dubai is good case for a progressive Iraq