Lebanon demolitions will make Syrian kids homeless: NGOs

Lebanon is home to an estimated 1.5 to 2 million refugees who have fled the Syrian conflict that erupted in 2011. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 June 2019
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Lebanon demolitions will make Syrian kids homeless: NGOs

  • The authorities in April set a June 9 deadline for Syrian refugees in Arsal to bring their homes into compliance
  • In Arsal, more than 5,000 structures made with concrete are slated for demolition

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s planned demolition of concrete shelters housing Syrian refugees near the border could make at least 15,000 children homeless, aid groups warned Tuesday.
The authorities in April set a June 9 deadline for Syrian refugees living in shelters built with materials other than timber and plastic sheeting in Arsal to bring their homes into compliance.
In Arsal, which lies in northeastern Lebanon, more than 5,000 structures made with concrete are slated for demolition. Similar measures could affect other communities in the near future.
Lebanon allows only informal camps for Syrian refugees to prevent permanent settlements that would affect its delicate demographic balance.
Three international aid agencies — Save the Children, World Vision and Terre des Hommes — warned that children were most at risk and urged the government to hold off.
“For a child who barely eats, and often doesn’t go to school, losing a home is extremely traumatic. And we are talking about 15,000 children,” said Piotr Sasin from the Swiss-based Terre des Hommes charity.
The joint statement warned that the “demolition of many of these homes could result in the destruction of household water and sanitation systems, leaving children at high risk of illness and disease.”
Lebanon is home to an estimated 1.5 to 2 million refugees who have fled the conflict that erupted in 2011 when the Syrian regime repressed initially peaceful protests.
Lebanon’s economic and other woes are routinely blamed on Syrian refugees by local politicians and the government has ratcheted up the pressure to send them back.


Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

Updated 52 min 41 sec ago
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Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

  • Fighting new economic plan ‘a strategic mistake,’ White House adviser says
  • Says plan would double Palestinian GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs

MANAMA, Bahrain: Donald Trump wants a fair deal for Palestinians, the US president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said on the eve of the launch in Bahrain of the White House’s $50 billion “peace for prosperity” plan.

The Palestinians are missing an opportunity to participate in the Middle East peace process by boycotting the Bahrain conference, Kushner said. “This is a strong package that has been put together. Fighting it instead of embracing it, I think, is a strategic mistake.”

The plan proposes a global investment fund for Palestine and neighboring Arab states, and a $5 billion transport corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian leaders have rejected it, but Kushner said their criticism was “more emotional than specific.”

“Nobody has refuted our core premise that this would do a lot to stimulate the economy,” he said. “The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.”

The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.

Jared Kushner, US president’s adviser

Kushner said Trump decisions such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv were evidence that the president kept his promises.

“The Palestinians might not have liked his Jerusalem decision, but he made a promise and he did it,” he said. What the president wanted now was “to give the Palestinian people a fair solution.”

Kushner said the plan would double the GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs, reduce poverty by 50 percent and bring unemployment to below 10 percent.

“We believe this doable,” he said. “It’s hard, but if there’s a peace agreement and we set up the right structure, we think it could really lead to improving people’s lives in a substantial way.

“I think there is a lot of enthusiasm in the West Bank and Gaza to see if we can find a political solution so that this can be implemented.”

The political element of the White House plan has been delayed by uncertainty in Israel, where there will be elections this year after an earlier vote failed to produce a stable coalition, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may also face a criminal trial for corruption.