Lebanese burn down Syrian refugee camp

A man walks in a burnt makeshift Syrian refugee camp after it was attacked by residents of the neighboring eastern Lebanese village of Qsarnaba near Zahle in the Bekaa valley on December 2, 2013. (Photo: AFP / STR)

Published Monday, December 2, 2013

Residents of a village in eastern Lebanon forced hundreds of Syrian refugees from an informal campsite on Monday, setting fire to tents after accusing them of raping a mentally-disabled man.

But a doctor who examined the man said there was no evidence he was attacked, and one resident of the village said the alleged rape was a pretext to drive the refugees from the site.

The incident comes amid warnings from the Lebanese government and aid agencies about tensions between Lebanese communities and the more than 800,000 Syrian refugees who have fled to the small country, which has its own long history of unrest.

The informal camp in the eastern Bekaa village of Qsarnaba housed some 400 refugees in around 100 tents and shelters.

On Sunday a group of local residents stormed the camp, setting fire to some of the tents and threatening its residents.

After the attack, many of the refugees began dismantling their shelters and spent Sunday night sleeping in the open nearby.

The residents returned on Monday, the refugees said, setting fire to at least 15 tents and knocking down others.

Ahmed Abdul Mahmud, a 33-year-old refugee, said members of the local Dirani family led the attack.

"The Diranis burned the tents and then refused to allow the fire brigade through to put the flames out," he told AFP.

"There's not a single tent left for us," he said, weeping.

He said the attackers beat the refugees and stole their belongings.

"They accused us of attacking a young man, knowing that the Lebanese army had already raided the tents, arrested about 30 people and then released them all for lack of evidence."

"I have three children, the eldest of whom is just six. We don't know where to go. After this I just want to go back to Syria."

The attack came after members of the Dirani family, who own the campsite land, accused four refugees of sexually assaulting a 29-year-old mentally-disabled member of the family.

"He was passing by the camp, and four residents lured him inside a tent and raped him," Ali Dirani told AFP.

"The man's mother found traces of blood on his trousers and informed the residents of the village," he said.

But the doctor who examined the alleged victim told AFP there was no sign he had been raped.

Ahmed Walid Suleiman said he had submitted a report saying "there is no medical proof that indicates the young man was subjected to any kind of attack."

"There are no signs of violence, or blood or bruising," he added.

A resident of Qsarnaba, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the rape allegation as "fabricated."

He said the dispute "stems from the Dirani family, who own the land, wanting to get it back and not finding a way to get rid of the refugees."

Lebanon, with a population of four million, is hosting 832,000 registered Syrian refugees, with estimates of more than a million in the country, including those not yet registered with the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

(AFP)

Comments

"What to do ? I don't know, I don't care. I just don't want to be living in a pseudo-Damascus every time I wanna go grab a beer."

Man, u r a masterpiece, im wondering if u r in their places and some syrian guy talking the same sentence u just wrote.. how would that make u feel. talking about lebanon, our generation is terrible, im lebanese but i prefer the syrians over the lebanese, at least syrian ppl still have some dignity. and im a poor guy i must count my money before i go grap a beer with my friends but im helping refugees near my home, with everything that might come in handy from food to clothes. but unfortunately most lebanese ppl and this new generation r like this guy who posted this comment. pure a***.

What most people forget is that the human race can possess both long memories of past events as well as very short memories of the same. Syria has forever been on the edge in its wish to take over Lebanon, much like Iraq did when Saddam Hussain invaded Kuwait calling it its own 13th Province. Even though Syria has not called Lebanon its own province, Syrians has nevertheless done the same to Lebanon and even more so, they applauded when Yasser Arafat took over in the early seventies. Let's not forget that together with Hezbollah Syria murdered Hariri.
I am not in favour of what transpired, but take a moment to think about the following, Hezbollah is fighting alongside Syrian troops. If and Syria becomes the victor in their internal rebellion, Hezbollah will be much stronger than now once they return and it will be then that the Lebanese people will feel the wrath of Hezbollah's new power. It is also then that Israel will begin defensive moves to protect its own and quite possibly invade Lebanon to rid the country of Hezbollah. With both Syria and Iran along with Hamas, itching for the demise of Israel, WW3 may well get its start in the Middle east.

"It is also then that Israel will begin defensive moves to protect its own and quite possibly invade Lebanon to rid the country of Hezbollah."

Don't you mean offensive? When you invade another country it's offensive. When you sit home and defend your border it's defensive or am I mistaken?

You are either greatly misinformed, or lebanese.

Shameful....Big time!! If only, Lebanese remember how did Syrians take them in in 2006!! Allah will bring victory to Syrians and everyone who has done Syrians wrong will regret it

Nobody should regret anything anymore.
This is how evil never stops, because it keeps
being payed back.
Lets help the people in need, and people
being harmful to others are also in need: in
need for love, respect, understanding, education.
Because only very hateful, stupid, single minded people
can burn down a camp with families and children.
lets be an example for all around, lets not pay back!
let nobody regret!!

I doubt 800,000+ Lebanese people went over to Syria and set up tents in land that they don't own. If you all want to act like you're a bunch of humanitarians, you're singing to deaf ears. If you want to look at the problem, you have to keep in mind that this is just the way it is. We can barely live in this country as LEBANESE people, we aren't afforded the most basic of rights, the most basic of human needs. Roads get messed up, the water cuts off, the electricity is still less consistent than an Alzheimer's patient, the salaries suck, the cost of living is astronomical (especially with the devastating influx of refugees). You want to be a humanitarian? Great ! Go grab a Syrian family off the street and house them with you. Fact of the matter is, any Syrian person coming to your doorstep and asking you for food or shelter, will get the door slammed in his face faster than he can say "shlonak". The Syrian migrants are a huge problem, and it's a problem that can't possibly be solved by Lebanon or the Lebanese populous. What to do ? I don't know, I don't care. I just don't want to be living in a pseudo-Damascus every time I wanna go grab a beer.

Apparemment on ne peut pas laisser des commentaires en arabe .... je voudrais te dire Ya LEBANESE .... que c'est à cause des mentalités pourries comme la tienne que le Liban a connu une longue guerre civile ..... et ta bière tu te la met la ou je pense ....

مسكين ...... أصلاً الزبالة يلي بتحكي متلك هي يلي دبحت الفلسطينيين و بلشت الحرب الأهلية من الخوف على الهوية للبنانية ......

Acts must be taken against the Dirani Family if there is a Lebanese State. This is a crime even though they possess the land legally.

Of course Israel respect human-beings more than us!
At least all her prisoners were respected and treated in a good way. Even the Kontar he was studying inside his prison. So if they are treating their prisoners in a respectful way... do you expect from them to mistreat refugees!

It's funny tho how Syria embraced the Lebanese refugees in 2006, and this is how they pay them?!
Irony.

Meanwhile, the israeli army providing humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians living near Israel border

I agree with you Esteban... Humanity has no color or gender nor race... Those people humanity or mercy are just words their hearts never experienced...

do not try to justify the actions of Israel, and their your torture of the Palestinian people with a lie that your helping the syrians. israel intentionally targets palestinian kids to start building the idea in their head that their cause is hopeless, so palestinian youth continue to act violently towards israelis and in turn israelis can use Palestinian rage (which stems from hopelessness) to justify their actions. Disgusting. you should be ashmed of defending this apartheid.

This is absolutely horrible.
But I wonder how professional it is to write down names in this article. What exactly are you looking for ? Are you endorsing a possible revenge ? Hasn't Lebanon had enough of this ?

I completely agree.

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