Lebanon’s political stability prompts Christian refugees to consider returning to Kurdistan

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Lorraine Caballero
The brewing political instability in Lebanon after the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri has prompted Christian refugees there to consider returning to Kurdistan, where they feel a lot safer.
(REUTERS / Stefan Rousseau / Pool)Prime Minister David Cameron meets a Syrian refugee family in a settlement camp in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, September 14, 2015.

Speaking to Rudaw in an interview, a Christian from the Iraqi city of Duhok named Minas Khame said some of his relatives fled to Lebanon and are currently waiting for the approval of their asylum application to the U.S. However, the present situation has caused them to start thinking that they might feel safer in the Kurdistan Region.

“Some of our relatives went to Lebanon three months ago,” Khame told Rudaw. “They have registered their names with the UN there and are now awaiting a decision to see whether they can immigrate to the US. But they are now about to lose hope.”

Thousands of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, especially in Haddath, are also at risk of being evicted. Aid workers said refugee eviction campaigns have been building up in the last few weeks, especially in areas dominated by Christians, Al Monitor reported.

Save the Children Lebanon country director Allison Zelkowitz told the publication that up to 6,000 refugees could be evicted from Haddath. Authorities in the municipality have also launched door-to-door campaigns to give eviction orders to the Syrian refugees.

Haddath mayor George Aoun explained that the eviction of Syrian refugees is based on illegal employment, incomplete residency permits, and unregistered rentals. However, there are some like 16-year-old Ahmad al-Obeid who claim that the municipality may be trying to rid the area of all Syrians, as he and his relatives were issued eviction notices even though they were not asked about their residency papers.

Earlier this month, Lebanon Prime Minister Saad resigned over an alleged plot to assassinate him. He also claimed the instability in his country and the surrounding region was initiated by Iran and its allies.

Kurdish MP Farid Jacob told Rudaw that they were aware of the concerns of the Christians in Lebanon, given the current political situation. He said they have already gotten in touch with these families and promised to help them if problems arise.