Lebanese Contradictory Responses to Syrian Refugees Include Stress, Hospitality, Resentment | Ifi Policy Brief
Policy Brief | June 2013
Lebanese Contradictory Responses to Syrian Refugees Include Stress, Hospitality, Resentment by Mona Christophersen and Cathrine Thorleifsson
This policy brief examines both impact of and responses to Syrian forced displacement in Lebanon and is based on fieldwork in the Sunni-village of Bebnine and a national opinion poll with a representative sample of 900.1 The mass influx of refugees is causing increased competition for scarce jobs in the informal sector. The Syrian refugees can combine aid assistance with below-average wages. As an unintended consequence, particularly poorer Lebanese are losing their jobs to cheaper Syrian labour or left with an unsustainable income. Attitudes towards Syrian refugees in Lebanon are characterized by contradiction. The Lebanese hosts have been remarkably hospitable and continue to absorb and support the self-settled refugees. On the other hand, intensified labour competition over time combined with a sense of differential financial treatment produce ambivalent attitudes and resentment towards the Syrian refugees. More than half of the Lebanese population surveyed believe that no more Syrians should be allowed to enter Lebanon and prefer UN refugee camps for those already in the country. The brief suggests that in the context of self-settled refugees, communal tensions caused by labour competition can be reduced by introducing cash for work assistance.