Conference on “Asylum” versus “Migration”
Time for a Painful Re-Evaluation in Lebanon?
October 6, 2020

UMAM D&R will be hosting a conference on October 10 entitled "Asylum" versus "Migration" - Time for a Painful Re-Evaluation in Lebanon? as part of the UMAM D&R program Most Welcome? Lebanon through its Refugees, supported by Germany's Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (IFA). The conference will be held in accordance with health precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference aims to critically address the current state of asylum and migration in Lebanon, despite and in light of the complicating factors in Lebanon and globally. Population flows into and out of the country need to be reconsidered in light of recent events as well as historical context. In the past years, political motivations aimed to blame the country's problems on refugees arriving into Lebanon, spreading pervasive belief among large sections of Lebanese society that refugees posed a threat to Lebanon's very existence as an entity, as well as its demographic and economic balance. However, what Lebanon is now facing is a reversal of dynamics, as its own citizens are (once again) fleeing Lebanon and seeking asylum elsewhere. While previously the Lebanese culture of prosperity had elevated the emigration of its citizens to an achievement that was admired and lauded, this phenomenon must now be problematized in light of internal and international conditions.

The program Most Welcome? Lebanon through its Refugees has been addressing migration and asylum topics over the past years, and the current moment requires discussion and stock-taking of the present situation. The past year has brought with it social, political, financial, and physical hardships, ranging from the widespread popular protests in Lebanon that began a year ago in October 2019, repeated government disbanding, financial collapse, and the massive explosion at the Beirut Port on August 4, 2020. What is needed is a frank and critical reckoning of the perceptions and impact of asylum, migration, and refugeeism on Lebanon.

Photo taken of migrants attempting to travel to Cyprus in September 2020" via UNIFIL