October 28, 2015 (REFERRING TO THE NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY – LEBANON) As part of his course entitled Lebanese Government and Politics, Dr. Imad Salamey, Associate Professor of Political Sciences in the Lebanese American University hosted Mrs. Noura Jumblatt for a discussion on Syrian refugees. The Syrian refugee crisis has been running for more than four years now. Lebanon is among the Arab countries that has hosted an immense number of refugees into its domains.
This issue, specifically the living conditions of refugees and the consequences Lebanon is baring, is of high importance and concern to our guest speaker.
Mrs. Jumblatt first gave the audience a brief overview on the some of the detrimental effects or conditions refugees are encountering in Lebanon.
“The vulnerability among refugees keeps growing, and the situation is becoming very critical” Jumblatt affirmed. “The numbers are increasing and so are the problems.” Today, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is close to 1.5 million people, of which 1.2 million are officially registered within the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Unlike other neighboringcountries that refugees have fled to, Lebanon has no formal refugee camps. According to Jumblatt, “The Lebanese government has steadfastly refused the official signing of creating refugee camps.” For that, refugees are staying in tents, overcrowded ones, mostly located in the Bekaa Valley. This has it’s demerits as well, as Mrs. Noura stressed that it is taking away agricultural opportunities from landlords in the valley.
Moreover, the fact that most refugees in the Bekaa valley come from poor socio-economic backgrounds further impacted their situation negatively. “Young women are getting married on the age of 14, 16 and sometimes 12″ Jumblatt affirmed.” Resorting to marriage is not the appropriate measure to deal with a girl that is a burden on the family, for it poses health risks on females that are too young. “Mrs. Noura stated that this denies them their education, economic opportunities and autonomy.
In this regard, Mrs. Jumblatt highly stressed on the fact that education is a fundamental human right. Being an activist in this field , Mrs. Jumblatt has established a foundation ,”Kayani”, that has opened three schools for refugees in the Bekaa Valley so far. The schools are very accessible for refugees, as they are located in the informal tented settlements in the bekaa.
Kayani has done an excellent job, as their schools feature computer classes, sewing workshops English classes and more for Syrian girls between 14 and 18 years of age. The schools have enrolled 1600 students and 100 teachers that are mostly Syrian. They have served almost 50 informal tented settlements, with a mission to produce “a better and educated generation”.
According to Mrs. Noura, “Education needs to be prioritized in emergency responses, for it produces cognitive protection, contributes to stability and gives children hope for a better life.”
Mrs. Jumblatt cordially took questions from students and turned her lecture into a discussion in which students shared all of their opinions and points of inquiry. The discussion was highly insightful, as Mrs. Noura concluded by asking university students to take action in the slightest way possible to help address or ease this issue.
SOURCE: NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY