In 1975, Beirut was torn in half by one of the twentieth century’s bloodiest civil conflicts. Since then, the path to peace has been littered with obstacles due to sectarian violence. Now, instability is increasing at an alarming rate because of the Syrian civil war, the recent rise of the so-called Islamic State, and the massive influx of refugees stemming from those events.
US Government personnel are working hard to build a safe and peaceful society by working with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to improve their ability to secure their country and address the needs of the Lebanese people. The US personnel and their LAF partners have focused a lot of their efforts on an austere northern governorate – one that has borne the brunt of the refugee crisis and the threat of extremist infiltration that comes with that.
The large number of Syrian refugees has forced the Government Headquarters to evolve into the region’s main refugee processing and relief coordination center. However, the building itself wasn’t designed to handle this situation. The facility is located in a vulnerable urban setting with heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Crowds of people frequently gather near the entrance, creating a potentially dangerous scenario. The USG personnel told Spirit of America the LAF and Lebanese government lack the funding to provide basic security infrastructure to safeguard staff and the refugees they serve.
Implementing basic security upgrades would enhance the screening of Syrian refugees and prevent future incidents by serving as a visual deterrent against malicious activity. Metal detectors, of both the walk-through and wand variety, would help guards check for weapons and explosives and prevent an attack. Simple barbed “concertina” wire would keep crowds from getting too close to the building itself.
With your help, Spirit of America can address this critical problem. Providing these items will greatly increase the safety and efficiency of humanitarian aid operations and refugee processing throughout the region.
*Photo courtesy of NY Times