The New York Times

Lebanon, Overrun by Syrian Refugees

Lebanon, Overrun by Syrian Refugees

My eyes kept being drawn to the shoes. The tiny pink running shoes with Velcro straps, on the feet of the 2-year-old girl sitting quietly on her mother’s lap. She fidgeted only a bit — jostling occasionally with her 7-year-old twin sisters while her father told a United Nations worker what had driven his young family 20 miles from Syria to this small town in Lebanon. They did not merely leave; they fled. And not once, but three times.


They came from Zabadani, which sits in a green valley in southwest Syria, just 20 miles from Damascus. He was a house painter who made a modest living while his wife took care of their three daughters. Their life began to fall apart in early 2012, when their house was destroyed amid fierce battles between rebel and government forces for control of their city.


They fled up a hill, to the nearby ancient town of Bloudan. They found refuge with an elderly man who shared his home with them for more than seven months. When their safety was threatened again, they fled farther toward the border with Lebanon. When the conflict followed them again, they crossed over it. They now live in two small rooms in a town in the Bekaa Valley, while their modest savings are drying up. And they consider themselves the lucky ones.


[Ninette Kelley | The New York Times]


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Photo courtesy of the UN

Poor Lebanese envy the international food, shelter and medical aid given to the refugees.