Lebanon, thousands of Syrian refugee children threatened by a demolition plan

A refugee center in the Arsal area, on the border with Syria, must be demolished by June 9. Up to 15 thousand children risk being left without a roof over their heads. Appeal of activists and NGOs: for a child who barely eats and does not go to school, losing their only home is "traumatizing".

Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 15,000 children of Syrian refugee families in Lebanon are likely to find themselves on the streets, without a bed to sleep in or a roof to shelter under. According to activists and NGOs, the authorities are planning to demolish the makeshift shelters previously built by their parents.

In April, local officials granted Syrian refugees until June 9 to demolish any type of shelter that was not built with wooden planks or plastic sheets in the Arsal area, on the border with Syria. Experts from Save the Children, World Vision and Terre des Hommes confirm that, at least 5 thousand structures are at risk of being razed in this area in the north-east of Lebanon.

The NGOs working in the camp are appealing to the Beirut government to back off and withdraw the abatement order.

"For a child who barely eats - says Piotr Sasin of Terre des Hommes - and who in most cases does not even go to school, losing a home is extremely traumatizing". The demolition of these houses, he adds, could lead to "the destruction of toilets and water supply, exposing children to the high risk of illness".

With a population of four million, Lebanon welcomes between 1.5 and 2 million Syrians, one million of whom are on the UN refugee lists. The refugee emergency threatens to collapse the social and economic system of Lebanon, placing an unbearable burden on infrastructure.

Furthermore, analysts and experts fear the risk of an increase in radicalization among those hosted in refugee camps in conditions of absolute precariousness. World Bank sources say that the Syrian crisis would have pushed at least 200,000 Lebanese beyond the poverty line, adding to the million already present.

"Our teams - tells Allison Zelkowitz of Save the Children - regularly meet children who are still upset about the loss of their home in Syria". "They should not now witness their home destroyed again and be subject to re-traumatization".