A Syrian refugee tells of fleeing Damascus to find safety in Lebanon

Photo posted by @JKhashoggi on Sunday July 22 on his Twitter account. The photo was taken from Mount Qasioun which overlooks Damascus.
 
Since the start of the fighting in the Syrian capital of Damascus, people have been fleeing from the city to neighbouring Lebanon. Our Observer is from the al-Midan district, an area on the front line of heavy fighting between the military and the Free Syrian Army. Below, he recounts his story of leaving for Beirut, where he is trying to rebuild his life despite the hardships
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According to statistics published July 18 by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 120,000 Syrian refugees are currently in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq. It is also estimated that between 8,500 and 30,000 people crossed the border into Lebanon between July 18-20, during the most violent clashes in the capital. Before this influx, the UNHCR had already counted 30,000 newly-arrived Syrians in Lebanon.
 
These refugees’ situations vary greatly. While some middle-class families are able to stay in hotels, others stay with friends or family. The poorest are housed in schools made available by Lebanese authorities. Local organisations are attempting to help by collecting basic necessities.
 
Photo published by @D_R_23 on July 21 on his Twitter account: “Mattresses, pillows and blankets have been handed out to Syrian refugees in the north of Lebanon”
 
On July 22, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition watchdog, announced that over 19,000 people, the majority of which were civilians but which also included 4,861 loyalist soldiers, have been killed in Syria since the protests started in March 2011. It is impossible to find statistics from an independent source as the UN has stopped counting those killed during the conflict.
 
A call for aid from a group of Syrian activists posted on July 21.
Contributors

“With my wife and children, we left with just our clothes”

Abou Adnane left Damascus on July 16 when fighting had just broken out in the capital.
 
My wife and I were taking our three children to the doctor for a routine check-up. Neighbours called us to say that a shell had exploded on our apartment in the al-Midan district. We ran home. When we got there, we couldn’t even get in the front door because everything was burnt and there was a strong smell of gas. We were afraid it was going to explode.
 
We immediately decided to leave for Beirut without bringing anything with us. We got on a bus that was already crowded with people trying to flee the country, like us. Normally it takes two and a half hours to get to the Lebanese border. Because of traffic jams, it took us seven hours to get to the border control at Masnaa. On the journey, we were stopped and searched by the military four times. Luckily they didn’t give us any trouble.
 
“In Beirut, I immediately started looking for work”
 
Once we arrived at the border at Masnaa (40 kilometres from Damascus) we had to wait several hours before being allowed through. My children are young: they are four, five and nine years old. They were hungry and tired, and there were more than 200 vehicles in front of us. Friends told us that customs officials were asking for money in exchange for crossing the border. But we managed to get past without any problems. In any case, we had nothing to give them. We’d left with just our clothes.
 
I’m currently staying with my sister who lives in Beirut. I’ve started looking for work because I don’t want to be a burden on her. She already struggles to make ends meet, especially during Ramadan. In Damascus I worked at a lingerie factory which closed when the fighting broke out in the city.
 
Tweet posted on July 24. 
    
 
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