Most Welcome?
Lebanon Through Its Refugees
على الرَّحْبِ والسَّعَة؟

لبنان في لاجئيه
2017 - 2020
Supported by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa)

After the Syrian revolution of 2011 slid into a vicious civil war, a wave of refugees crossed into Lebanon and ignited a fresh debate about the role of refugees in Lebanon. As discussions focused on topics such as the costs of hosting refugees, potential security threats that come with this forced hospitality, and other aspects that are exceedingly difficult to measure, UMAM D&R felt a new approach towards refugeeism in Lebanon was needed, hence it launched "Most Welcome? Lebanon Through Its Refugees." Looking at the past to inform the future, UMAM D&R utilizes its many resources to trace asylum in Lebanon through the years while pushing back against the xenophobic actions and attitudes that have become especially prevalent in recent years.

As the initial surge of Syrian refugees began seeking shelter in Lebanon in late 2011, the event marked the onset of the second substantial flood of migrants since the country became independent in 1943. From 2011 onward, the international community has exerted tremendous effort and committed substantial resources to help Lebanon contain this crisis. Despite that support, however, large portions of Lebanese society and a number of the country's major political actors have continued to describe the situation grimly as an existential threat to the integrity of the Lebanese entity. In 2017, for example, while Lebanon’s prime minister was preparing to attend an EU-sponsored conference in Brussels titled "Supporting Syria and the Region," he disclosed to a group of foreign media correspondents in Beirut that Lebanon was near the "point of collapse." Later in his remarks, the Lebanese premier expressed concern that the 1.5 million Syrians in the country could incite strife between that growing community and its Lebanese hosts. Examples abound of similar statements from government officials and interestingly, the rhetoric being used to characterize the issue of Syrian asylum in Lebanon seems to have been drawn from the remarkably deep well of arguments that were already in use just before Lebanon's civil war erupted in 1975.