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Christian Emigration Report: Lebanon and Syria

In Iraq, the emigration is due to the blockade imposed on the people, which leads to two major concerns:

  1. A high rate of poverty where the monthly salary is around US $3 (Chaldean Bishop of Beirut).
  2. Increasing infant/child mortality rate, usually from diarrhea, heart and respiratory problems as well as malnutrition. On 11 July 2001 Baghdad stated the following: “A total of 1,520,417 Iraqis of which 622,887 children less than five years old (41%) have died due to the embargo of the United Nations that started 11 years ago.”

The Sudanese, who arrive in Lebanon either legally or illegally through Syria or Egypt, are mostly Christians. Even when they find work, they are illegal workers and liable to be arrested and jailed in the Detention Center of the General Security, whether or not they are recognized by UNHCR as refugees. Until last year, the Detention Center was based in a building of the Ministry of Interior General Security Department under atrocious conditions. Detainees were crowded into rooms without windows, ventilation or proper sanitary facilities. Then the Sudanese Consul and the General Security try to persuade the emigrants to accept repatriation. Those who refuse repatriation, fearing that it would put their lives in danger, are locked up again with a constant fear of repatriation. The reasons for the Sudanese people to leave their country are: 20 percent left their country because of wars, 14 percent because of religion (Caritas source). The remaining 51 percent left due to the lack of job opportunities, medical assistance, fear, etc.

A large percentage of Sudanese and Somalis in Lebanon are single and live in groups of four to eight in small, uncomfortable and expensive rooms. They share the rent and the various expenses. A smaller percentage come with their families and live in the same condition as the single people. Women rarely work and most of the children do not go to schools.

Iraqis are classified as refugees by the UNHCR; almost all of them are Christian and are divided into two groups: Orthodox and Catholic. Some 80 percent of the Iraqi immigrants come with their families and share the same living conditions as the Sudanese. According to Caritas, the major causes of their emigration are classified by order as follows: war (20%), affiliation to a political party (14%) and low income (11%). The remaining 55 percent are related to lack of job opportunities, health care, etc.

4. Palestinian Refugees

In 1951, the first survey reported that there were 376,472 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, most of whom lived in camps. Some of these refugees left Lebanon for other countries, but many remained in the camps. Living conditions in the camps are very difficult – people live in very old houses with decrepit, steel roofs unsuitable for extreme temperatures of winter and summer. The population density under the same roof is very high. Roads are not paved and sewage flows in open channels (UNRWA source).

Status of Refugees





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