Lebanon has denied reports of discriminatory measures against Syrian refugees in the country, as concerns continue to grow around the Lebanese authorities' and society's treatment of their displaced neighbours.
According to a statement by the Lebanese Foreign Ministry last week, the government has not taken any measures which distinguish or discriminate between Syrian refugees and Lebanese citizens. Instead, the Ministry said, the economic crisis – and now the global food shortages ravaging international markets – has led to a natural competition between the country's citizens and various residents from surrounding countries.
"Lebanon has repeatedly warned that this reality will inevitably lead to competition between the Lebanese, Palestinian refugees and displaced Syrians over limited food resources," the Ministry stated. "There is no doubt that the continuation of this situation will lead to an increase in the level of tension, and indeed in the rate of security incidents against all marginalised groups in Lebanon."
After the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011, caused by the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, Lebanon currently hosts around 1.5 million Syrian refugees, around 900,000 of whom are registered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The Lebanese Foreign Ministry's claim that there are no discriminatory measures against Syrians is in direct contrast to a series of laws such as curfews and limits to working hours and wages that have been imposed on Syrian refugees in some municipalities within Lebanon over the years.
The Ministry's statement also comes after the UNHCR warned of increasing tensions between Lebanese citizens and displaced Syrians within the country, citing a series of assaults against Syrians.