• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

We are inching along, but not as quickly as we (or you) would like. If you have already donated, thank you so much. If you haven’t had a chance, consider skipping the coffee this week and drop CounterPunch $5 or more. We provide our content for free, but it costs us a lot to do so. Every dollar counts.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Flood of Refugees

Beirut.

Rabih Shibli and his team from the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service at the American University of Beirut heard about the garage through their close contact with various relief organisations. Mr. Shibli is an energetic man, impatient with posturing. He sees a problem and seeks results. Mr. Shibli’s team, including a young architect Ali Adnan Basma, raised funds from individuals and from charities such as Secours Islamique and Medrar Foundation in order to refurbish the garage. The point was to “make the inside livable”, he said. In a matter of months, their team was able to upgrade the garage so that the refugees could live a less precarious life.

Almost seven hundred thousand Syrian refugees are now in Lebanon, a state weakened by a long civil war, an Israeli occupation and constant threats of the return of both. “There is always that shadow,” says the writer Sahar Mandour, whose novels shine a light onto contemporary Lebanese society. The
15125371Lebanese state, like that of Iraq and Jordan, is not able to manage the crisis by itself. It has come to rely on the U.N. and its specialised agencies to coordinate and even manage refugee relief.

Even the U.N. is overwhelmed. One problem is funds. Much is promised, says the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), but little makes it to the ground. The Regional Refugee Response Plan calls for $3 billion toward relief, but only 37 per cent of it has been funded. For humanitarian assistance inside Syria, the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has asked for $1.4 billion but has only been promised 43 per cent of that amount. The funding pledges made at the Kuwait conference in January have yet to materialise. The humanitarian effort is “hampered by lack of funding”, said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Because of this, the World Food Program has had to “reduce the size of its food parcels to keep pace with the growing numbers in need. If additional aid is not urgently received, there will be a break in the food pipeline in October”.

To help stem the unfolding crisis, the U.N. has designated Nigel Fisher to be the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator. As of now, five countries in the region have been the recipients of the nearly two million Syrians who have fled their country (an additional five million are internally displaced). Of these, the largest number is in Lebanon (nearing 700,000) with Jordan not far behind (just over 500,000). Parenthetically, the U.S. has only taken in 33 Syrian refugees. Egypt, which was very generous with Syrian refugees from 2011, placed restrictive entry procedures from July 8. Syrians who arrived on aircraft from Latakia and Damascus were sent home if they did not have a visa and prior security approval, according to UNHCR. Most refugees end up in Lebanon and Jordan where the weak states rely upon municipal leaders and ordinary citizens to bear the cost of relief. Over 4150 children have crossed into Syria’s neighbours without an adult, according to Unicef.

In Sarafand, not far from Aaqbiye, Mr. Shibli and his team found Syrian refugees living in substandard tents. Using locally fabricated materials including marine plywood and corrugated sheets, he was able to design a house whose prototype cost $1500 per unit. If he made more of them, he said, the cost would come down by nearly half. The UNHCR has gone into partnership with the IKEA Foundation to make pre-fabricated homes that cost $10,000 per house. The IKEA homes are made in Europe, they are harder to repair and they will not endure high velocity winds, says Mr. Shibli, a believer in local construction for refugee homes. Locally built homes would save the U.N. money, he says, and it would employ local people into economies wracked by the refugee influx.

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013).

A version of this article originally ran in The Hindu

More articles by:

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 23, 2019
Kenneth Surin
Western China and the New Silk Road
W. T. Whitney
Stirrings of Basic Change Accompany Protests in Haiti
Louisa Willcox
Inviting the Chief of the Grizzlies to Our Feast
Jonathan Cook
The Democrats Helped Cultivate the Barbarism of ISIS
Dave Lindorff
Military Spending’s Out of Control While Slashing It Could Easily Fund Medicare for All
John Kendall Hawkins
With 2020 Hindsight, the Buffoonery Ahead
Jesse Hagopian
The Chicago Teachers Strike: “Until We Get What Our Students Deserve”
Saad Hafiz
America’s Mission to Remake Afghanistan Has Failed
Victor Grossman
Thoughts on the Impeachment of Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Celebrity Protesters and Extinction Rebellion
John Horning
Spotted Owls and the National Christmas Tree
Dave Lindorff
Moment of Truth on Military Spending in the NY Times
October 22, 2019
Gary Leupp
The Kurds as U.S. Sacrificial Lambs
Robert Fisk
Trump and the Retreat of the American Empire
John Feffer
Trump’s Endless Wars
Marshall Auerback
Will the GOP Become the Party of Blue-Collar Conservatism?
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Trump’s Fake Withdrawal From Endless War
Dean Baker
Trump Declares Victory in China Trade War
Patrick Bond
Bretton Woods Institutions’ Neoliberal Over-Reach Leaves Global Governance in the Gutter
Robert Hunziker
XR Co-Founder Discusses Climate Emergency
John W. Whitehead
Terrorized, Traumatized and Killed: The Police State’s Deadly Toll on America’s Children
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A World Partnership for Ecopolitical Health and Security
Binoy Kampmark
The Decent Protester: a Down Under Creation
Frances Madeson
Pro-Democracy Movement in Haiti Swells Despite Police Violence
Mike Garrity
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Challenges Logging and Burning Project in Methow Valley
Chelli Stanley
Change the Nation You Live In
Elliot Sperber
Humane War 
October 21, 2019
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Wolf at the Door: Adventures in Fundraising With Cockburn
Rev. William Alberts
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Sheldon Richman
Let’s Make Sure the Nazis Killed in Vain
Horace G. Campbell
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
Jim Kavanagh
The Empire Steps Back
Ralph Nader
Where are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Poll Projection: Left-Leaning Jagmeet Singh to Share Power with Trudeau in Canada
Thomas Knapp
Excuses, Excuses: Now Hillary Clinton’s Attacking Her Own Party’s Candidates
Brian Terrell
The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National “Black Eye”
Paul Bentley
A Plea for More Cynicism, Not Less: Election Day in Canada
Walter Clemens
No Limits to Evil?
Robert Koehler
The Collusion of Church and State
Kathy Kelly
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Charlie Simmons
How the Tax System Rewards Polluters
Chuck Collins
Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail