Monday, April 8, 2013

Why are they fleeing?

The material I'm posting here is very graphic, but it's a tale that needs to be told.  If you are not an adult, or are easily offended, please do not read any further.

Lebanon is staggering under a load of Syrian refugees.  The number of them is not accurately known, but four hundred thousand are registered with UNHCR for relief.  At least that many more are unregistered, for fear that the Assad regime will not allow them to return to Syria, or even persecute their family remaining in Syria.  This staggering load of perhaps 800,000 refugees is being borne by a nation of about 4 million people.  It would be as if 60 million refugees, more than half the population of Mexico, poured across the borders into the United States.  I'm not sure we would keep our border open as the Lebanese have.

Why are these Syrians fleeing to Lebanon (also Turkey, Jordan, and even Iraq)?  The civil war, which has raged for two agonizing years, has killed about 70,000 so far and devastated entire cities.  People flee with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.  We are regularly distributing not just food, but clothing, blankets, pillows, sleeping pads, and toiletries.

The country is being ravaged by destruction of an unimaginable scale.   One family I spoke with recently had come to Lebanon to earn money to build a house back in Syria.  They are Bedouin who tend fields in Southern Lebanon.  Right now they are working a promising-looking wheat crop.  Before the war they had managed to build a home, but now it lies in ruins and all they have is a shack covered with tarps which sits beside the fields.  Not just their home, but their whole city is a pile of rubble.  Their story is told a hundred thousand times over.

But that is not the worst of it.   The most horrible and inhumane acts are committed by both the government and the rebels.  The Assad regime and it's cronies regularly dump bodies of slain dissidents and rebels for public display.  They are tortured, bound up, and killed execution-style.

Perhaps the most disturbing evils are committed by the rebel forces.  They have begun suicide bombings which not only target religious leaders, but also indiscriminately kill people on the streets and in Mosques.  One Saudi religious leader supporting the rebels has given a Fatwa (religious ruling) that allows rebel soldiers to rape Syrian women.  The most degrading part of this religious ruling is that the women are supposed to submit to the rape as a religious requirement in order to enter paradise.

This is why they flee.

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