Hundreds of Syrian refugees have fled their temporary camp in northern Lebanon after their tents were set on fire when fighting broke out between local youths and campers.
At least three people were injured in the clash in the Miniyeh region near the coastal city of Tripoli on Saturday, after which youths set the camp on fire, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said.
Tensions between refugees and residents have increased in Lebanon in recent years. Humanitarian workers and politicians say they have been fueled by racism and the anger of people blaming refugees for their work during a financial crisis.
Lebanon has received more than a million Syrian refugees since the start of the civil war in 2011. They have become a major source of cheap labor for the construction and agricultural sector in Lebanon.
Damascus has called on Lebanon’s judicial authorities and security forces to ‘assume their responsibilities’ to ensure that their citizens are protected. “Syria regrets the fire … which terrified the residents and deprived them of shelter,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on state media.
Khaled Kabarra, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, said the nearly 400 residents who fled the camp had gone to other fenced-in campsites or found temporary shelter in vacant schools and hotels.