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“The prices have been going up steadily and my salary is still the same,” said Mr. Yassin, who married three years ago and worries that in the near future he will not be able to afford schooling for his 2-year-old son, Michael.

“When I ask for a raise, my boss tells me: ‘If you’re not satisfied, just leave; I can easily replace you,’” he says.

With job opportunities generally on the decline and competition with Syrian workers increasing, especially over low-income, unskilled work, many feel the precariousness of their condition.

While the Bekaa Valley — and Lebanon in general — has always been a magnet for Syrian migrant laborers willing to work in agriculture or in construction, an influx of newcomers has flooded the job market in this small country. Refugees now work as plumbers, painters and repairmen, and perform countless other manual jobs throughout Lebanon.

In Zahleh, as well as the rest of the country, it has become very common to encounter Syrians — recognizable from their accent — serving coffee in cafés or carrying grocery bags. They sometimes go entirely unpaid, relying only on tips.

Moreover, circumstances have reduced many Syrians to beg — sometimes as young as 5 — in the streets of every city in the country.

This overwhelming new situation has caused an uproar in Lebanese society, which for years regarded Syria as an oppressing power.

Although in October 2014 the Lebanese government closed its borders to refugees, adopting stricter regulations for Syrians wishing to reside and work in the country, many among Lebanon’s poorest have worried that while Syrians receive aid from the United Nations and charity groups, citizens will be left to their own devices. This has fueled deeply rooted feelings of resentment of Syrians and has nourished a growing antagonism toward the refugees. Reports of abuse and hostilities between locals and refugees are commonplace, even if violent incidents tend to be kept in check. Accordingly, most aid groups are very careful not to fuel such sentiments.

“Every aid program that helps Syrian or Iraqi refugees in the country makes sure to support poor local Lebanese communities as well,” says Mr. Constantin.

Nevertheless, love remains, transcending such raw emotions and fears.

Three years ago, Eli Yassin met Lina Barakat, 35, from the town of Zabadani in southwestern Syria, located close to the border of Lebanon. She escaped with her parents and brother under heavy bombardment.

“In the beginning, my father insisted for several months on staying,” she says. “Then one day the shelling was unbearable and there was smoke all over the apartment. So we had no choice but to leave in a rush,” adds the Greek Orthodox refugee, who studied photography and filmmaking in Syria.

After crossing the border in a taxi, she stayed with her family at her aunt’s residence near Zahleh. Four months later, Lina Barakat met Eli Yassin at a clothing store. They fell in love, and after a few months they married.

Today, the couple and their son live with Mr. Yassin’s mother in a modest apartment off an alley in a poor Zahleh neighborhood.

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