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Lebanon: rising discrimination against Syrian refugees amid bread shortage

August 10, 2022 at 9:03 am

Syrian refugees are seen in a refugee camp in Tripoli, Lebanon on 3 January 2021 [Mahmut Geldi/Anadolu Agency]

Syrian refugees in Lebanon are being discriminated against over the provision of bread within the country as shortages and price hikes of the basic commodity fuel existing tensions in society, a leading charity has reported.

According to Save the Children, the anxiety over the shortage of bread is being seen in the long queues outside bakeries in Lebanon, where Syrian refugees bear the brunt of discrimination. In some areas, it has been reported that curfews are in place for refugees. These are enforced by bakeries being told to prioritise Lebanese citizens over Syrians and demand proof of identity from customers.

Wafaa is 25 years old and lives in a refugee camp in the southern suburbs of Beirut. “When we go to the bakery, we have to wait in line for hours and we don’t know if we will get a bag of bread,” she told Save the Children. “My husband was beaten out of the line because he is Syrian.”

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Syrian refugees have been discriminated against by the Lebanese authorities and society over the past decade, with local municipalities issuing restrictions such as curfews and wage limits against them. The shortage of bread — caused largely by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where much of the world’s wheat is produced — has now exacerbated that discrimination.

“Bread is not a luxury,” explained Jennifer Moorehead, Save the Children’s Country Director for Lebanon. “It is a basic necessity in Lebanon, like clean water or shelter. Families rely on bread so much here that we fear hunger levels will spiral out of control and the impact will be catastrophic if this crisis continues.”

She added that all families are feeling the impact of Lebanon’s bread shortage. “However, refugees are facing the heaviest burden now with cases of harassment escalating. All vulnerable populations must have equal access to life-saving food, no matter their nationality.”

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