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Fighting Prejudice and Racism with Facts and Figures Discussion Session Tackles Repercussions of the Syrian Crisis on Lebanon

Fighting Prejudice and Racism with Facts and Figures Discussion Session Tackles Repercussions of the Syrian Crisis on Lebanon
Nora has been unemployed for a year now. She took part in a discussion session organized by the UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project held on Tuesday 22 August, 2017, at Dar El-Nimer in Hamra.

During this session, Nora shared her experience with an audience of 60 journalists, activists, students and university professors. They came to discuss the latest issue, № 16, of the news supplement published by UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project on August 7, 2017. The news supplement, which is funded by Germany, was distributed with An-Nahar newspaper in its Arabic version, with The Daily Star in its English version, and with L'Orient-Le Jour newspaper in its French version.

“I used to blame Syrians for taking our jobs”, said Nora, “But now that I have read the news supplement you are discussing today, and heard several points of view, I understood that I should have a different perspective on this issue and should not blame anyone nor throw any prejudice”.

The session was an opportunity to listen to the readers’ feedback and engage in an open and constructive discussion in the presence of the supplements’ contributors. Discussion evolved around the articles of the issue which tackled Lebanese labor policies, racism and its social repercussions on Lebanon, the impact of the rent policies on Lebanon, stories of refuge and many other issues.

Bachir Khoury, journalist and participant in this supplement, explained that “off the beaten track and away from the analyses often made about Syrian refugees and the negative impact of their presence on the country’s economy, one thing is certain, despite the shy media coverage it receives: this presence has benefits too, and considerable ones.”

Sobhiya Najjar, a news reporter, journalist and researcher and a participant in this supplement, presented the stories she had written in the supplement. Her stories were ones that are told by Syrian workers recounting their daily suffering in the country of asylum at the social and legal levels, as well as their relationship with the Lebanese host community.

“If we don’t talk about the sufferings of the refugees, and their pain, we become a heartless and ruthless society”, said Sobhiya.

This discussion sessions was also an opportunity to gather feedback on both the format and content of the supplement and collect suggestions and recommendations for the upcoming supplements. Participants suggested different topics to be discussed from a legal, social, economic and human rights perspective.

Other than the topic of the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, the supplement discussed civil peace related topics.

Nadine Bekdache from “Public Works Studio”, shared with the audience some findings regarding rent policies in Beirut. These findings were mentioned in the article she wrote in the supplement on “the repercussions of rent policies on the city and everyday life”.

“The impact of the law does not only involve society’s most vulnerable (, but also, by expelling people from their neighborhoods, will also push up the number of vulnerable and marginalized” she mentioned in her article adding that “Beirut’s residents are not at risk of eviction because of their legal status, but rather as a result of policies that undermine citizenship rights and consider them an obstacle to real estate development. This leads to unjust and undignified practices against city dwellers and forces them to undergo the ordeal of proving their «legitimacy» to remain in the city.”