A floor of the Tripoli hospital has been turned over to Syrian casualties who are forced to undertake the hazardous journey across the border with Lebanon that is patrolled by army troops and laced with land mines.
“We are receiving a lot of people. The rate of casualties is increasing,” says Abu Bashir, a volunteer who helps coordinate the treatment of casualties and, like others interviewed for this article, used a pseudonym due to the sensitive nature of the center’s work.
Indeed, the refugees are not guaranteed safety even once they cross the border.
Syria exerts a pervasive influence in Lebanon through a network of Damascus-backed allies and a sympathetic government in Beirut. Several Syrians have been abducted in Lebanon since the uprising began in mid-March, and anti-Assad regime activists are forced to live in hiding, moving from one safe house to another.
Some 5,000 Syrian refugees are scattered across northern Lebanon, many forced to rent accommodation or stay with friends and relatives given the lack of assistance from the Lebanese state. Turkey, in contrast, has established a number of camps along its southern border with Syria – where as many as 12,000 Syrian refugees have crossed – and is catering to the needs of those remaining in the country.