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Conference in Berlin to Support the Syrian Refugees

November 23rd 2014

The Syrian Association for Democracy and Human Rights’ (S.A.F.E)
Declaration about the Conference in Berlin to Support the Syrian Refugees

The Syrian Association for Democracy and Human Rights (S.A.F.E.) tremendously thanks the concerted efforts of the members of the participating governments in the "Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation” that took place in Berlin.
First and foremost, the S.A.F.E. would like to thank the commitment of the participating governments in increasing their aids and let you know that we greatly appreciate this honorable humanitarian decision to help support Syrian refugees in these harsh and difficult times away from their homeland.
S.A.F.E. understands that the participating members in the conference committed to the Lebanese government to increase their financial support intended for the support of the Syrian refugees displaced in Lebanon. While this kind hearted revered decision deserves great appreciation, the S.A.F.E. respectfully recommends that the support should not be misconstrued to be unconditional and free of responsibility on the part of the Lebanese government. An action that could lead to misappropriation and lack of responsibility on the part of the receiving entity.
Therefore, the S.A.F.E. organization kindly recommends to the committee to consider requesting that the Lebanese government, as a condition to receiving the monetary support, periodically provide the committee with neutral public records and data detailing the treatment and living situations of the refugees as well as showing how the 500 Million Euros were dispersed.
Addendum: Condition of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
First: During the four years of crisis in Syria, the Lebanese government has yet to improve the conditions of the Syrian refugees
In 2013, the S.A.F.E. organization, in cooperation with LIFE (Lebanese Institute for Democracy and Human Rights), provided its most controversial report about the circumstances of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The report points to the political discourse and racial incitement the Syrian refugees suffer there.
Among other intolerable inhumane conditions endured by the refugees, there has been an unprecedented increase in cases of arbitrary arrests. Most notably is the recent arrest of a Syrian activist in the S.A.F.E. organization. The former employee at the Syrian Embassy in Lebanon was politically arrested based on an illegitimate request from the regime's embassy in Beirut.
Second: Lack of responsibility on the part of the Lebanese government to subdue these inhumane living conditions
The Lebanese government hasn’t been showing so far a positive reaction towards the refugee files, but considers that these violations are the actions of an individual security or partisan elements.
Third: In the field of education
The Lebanese government didn’t hide the discrimination in dealing with the education of the Syrian refugees but included the non-Lebanese as well, particularly the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon since 1948. This has been clearly declared by the minister of Education Elias Bou Saab himself.
S.A.F.E. has considered this in one of its declarations. The government’s decision to forbid all the school aged Syrian refugees from exercising their basic right to get an education. Keep in mind, the Lebanese government has received plenty of financial aid from numerous organizations such as UNRWA dedicatedly specifically for education. Thus, they’re discriminating against the education of the refugees in Lebanon.
Fourth: In the field of protection and human rights
The Syrian case is a lesson that can’t be ignored due to the changing of the civil peaceful protests into a military case leading to the formation of terrorist groups which with no doubt draws attention.
Despite the announcement of the Lebanese government formally of its opinion on the Syrian crisis describing it as neutral and self-distancing, they did not take any action against the fighting of the Hezbollah militias with the Syrian regime forces inside the Syrian territory. But even over the years of the Syrian crisis, the government has devoted and increased the pressure on the refugees leading one way or another to the formation of civic organizations in the interior of Syria and Lebanon. These organizations recent work was not just kidnapping a number of the Lebanese army in Arsal. The government had addressed this matter with heavy military vehicles against the civil refugees as a kind of reaction to the armed gangs which was considered by the organization – in its declaration in 27/09 /2014 – as a flagrant violation of the rules of the international law and the fourth Geneva Convention and its components about the protection of the victims of the armed conflicts.
Ditto the organization condemned the Lebanese interior minister’s -Nouhad El Machnouk – declaration in 29/08/2015 who stated that kidnapping the Lebanese soldiers and having a million and a half Syrian refugees leads Lebanon to a dangerous situation which was considered by the organization as a public
Violation to all the national treaties that were previously signed by the Lebanese government.
The Syrian Association for Democracy and Human Rights (S.A.F.E) looks at the intentions of the Lebanese government in its dealing with the Syrian refugees’ crisis in Lebanon with a little bit of scepticism, and rightfully so. The organization also considers that the Lebanese government begs for aid under the pretext of Syrian refugees. Unfortunately, once funding is provided to them there is no accountability to the appropriation of the money. As evidenced in the above illustrations, the money does not seem to be used to help the Syrian refugees meet their bare necessities of heat, food, and shelter and providing school aged kids with the education.
The organization appeals to your governments to reconsider the distribution of aid provided to help the Syrian refugee. As indicated above, at this time the Lebanese government seems lacking in responsibility and can’t provide the necessary amenities to the Syrian refugees under its jurisdiction. Therefore, instead of putting all the eggs in one basket, why not help fund the NGO’s that are directly concerned with the Syrian crisis. Or, assign a reliable international entity to control the disbursement of the aid and oversee expenditures. Either approach can and would alleviate the sufferings of Syrian refugees while preventing wastage of funds and more importantly prevent the spread of extremism into the communities of the Syrian refugees.
SAFE Director
Nizar Al Sharaa