Land of the displaced

From september 2013 till april 2014 I traveled throughout Lebanon with my camera exploring the living conditions of displaced people.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, millions of people have fled their home in or outside the country resulting into the biggest refugee crisis since WWII. Neighboring states have seen a flow of asylum seekers entering their territory in search for protection. During my research on the matter of Syrian refugees I was struck by how the situation varied from state to state. The huge camps in Jordan handled by UN agencies and NGO’s differed from the smaller ones in Iraq or the state-handled ones in Turkey. This differed completely from the the situation in Lebanon.

Out of the five countries bordering Syria, Lebanon has hosted most the of Syrian refugees. Fearing a long lasting settlement of the Syrian population as it happened previously with the Palestinian camps, which are now semi autonomous built settlements, the authorities have not allowed the creation of official refugee camps handled by UN agencies or NGO’s. Further more since Lebanon is not signatory of the 1951 UN Convention or its 1967 protocol, the country does not have legislation or administrative practices in place to address the needs of refugees.

As the civil war in Syria escalated, the number of displaced people in Lebanon increased. Inevitably the sectarian evolvement of the Syrian conflict has over spilled in Lebanon  exacerbating communal tensions and affecting the country’s stability. A broad apprehension from local communities towards refugees has resulted into curfews imposed by municipalities, arbitrary arrests, evictions by landlords and an increase of unpunished attacks perpetrated by private citizens.

Despite UN agencies and the number of NGO’s assisting with the crises, a large burden of the situation has fallen on the displaced themselves. The absence of a defined status and a general hostility from the hosting population has led to marginalize a vulnerable population.