Syrian refugee women suffer sex abuse in Lebanon

Published November 28th, 2013 - 10:16 GMT
A Syrian woman displaced by the war walks with her child in a neighborhood with a high concentration of Syrian refugees on November 9, 2013 in Beirut, Lebanon.  [Spencer Platt/Getty Images]
A Syrian woman displaced by the war walks with her child in a neighborhood with a high concentration of Syrian refugees on November 9, 2013 in Beirut, Lebanon. [Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

The rights organization said on Wednesday that it had interviewed a dozen female refugees in Lebanon who said they had been sexually harassed and exploited. 

“Women who have fled death and destruction in Syria should find a safe haven, not sexual abuse, in Lebanon,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. 

The Human Rights Watch official also stated that the victims do not report the incidents due to fear of reprisals by the abusers or arrest for not having a valid residency permit. 

Gerntholtz also called on Lebanese officials to take measures for improving the refugee condition. 

“Government and aid agencies need to open their eyes to the sexual harassment and exploitation of these vulnerable refugees and do everything in their power to stop it.” 

On November 21, the international aid agency Oxfam warned of the worsening situation of the thousands of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. 

“Refugees from Syria face a daily battle to survive in a country where jobs and affordable accommodation are scarce. The perpetual hunt for work is crushing people’s hope,” said Oxfam’s Deputy Humanitarian Director Nigel Timmins. 

According to the United Nations, more than 800,000 Syrians either have registered or are awaiting registration as refugees in Lebanon. Some Lebanese officials, however, said there could be over one million Syrian refugees in the country. 

The United Nations has repeatedly warned against the humanitarian situation in Syria, saying that over nine million people are in need of urgent aid due to the crisis. 


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