Lebanon: Syrian refugee camp set on fire after fight between refugees and locals

WION Web Team
Beirut, Lebanon Updated: Dec 27, 2020, 09:48 PM(IST)

Syrian refugees salvage belongings from the wreckage of their shelters at a camp set on fire overnight in the northern Lebanese town of Bhanine on December 27, 2020, following a fight between members of the camp and a local Lebanese family Photograph:( AFP )

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Army and police rushed to the camp to calm tensions

Syrian refugee camp in northern Lebanon was set on fire on Saturday night after a fight between members of the camp and a local Lebanese family, said state media. United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, confirmed that a large fire had broken out in the camp and that the injured were taken to the hospital. The refugee camp is located in Miniyeh region of Lebanon.

"The fire has spread to all the tented shelters" -- made of plastic sheeting and wood -- UNHCR spokesman Khaled Kabbara told AFP. 

The camp housed around 75 families, he said.

Lebanon's army said it had arrested 8 people in connection with the incident. Two of the arrested are Lebanese while six are Syrians.

"The Lebanese men fired bullets in the air and torched the tents of Syrian refugees," it said.

Lebanon's National News Agency earlier reported that the fire started after "altercation" between a member of a Lebanese family and "Syrian workers"

Other youths from the Lebanese family then "set fire to some of the refugees' tents", the NNA added. 

The report said that Lebanese Civil Defence fought the blaze while army and police were deployed to restore calm.

A security source told AFP that the fight in the Bhanine area was sparked when Syrian workers demanded a wage which their employers refused to pay.

However, the same source said later that initial inquiries found the dispute could have been sparked by the harassment of a Syrian woman.  

Lebanon says it hosts some 1.5 million Syrians, including around one million registered as refugees with the United Nations.

Authorities have called on refugees to return to Syria even though rights groups warn that the war-torn country is not yet safe.

(With AFP inputs)

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