Middle East
Displaced Syrians wish for lasting peace during Eid
Last Updated: 2014-07-30 07:50 | Xinhua
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While millions of Muslims around the world celebrate their annual holiday Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Syrian refugees in Lebanon continue to hope to see end of the conflict that has been raging in the their home country for more than three years.

At the entrance of Omar Bin al-Khattab mosque in the Shebaa village, Abed al-Hakim al-Atwi carries his five-year-old child somberly.

"Let this Eid be an occasion to call on all the concerned countries to work hard to put an end to the war in Syria and lift injustice that (burdens) millions of the displaced," the 60-year- old from the devastated Beit Jin town told Xinhua.

On the morning of Eid al-Fitr, only a few of the Syrians displaced in Lebanon attend the nearby mosques to perform the regular Eid prayer, while others choose to gather under the largest tent in their makeshift camps to attend various Eid rituals.

Eid speeches given by community leaders stressed the necessity of putting an end to the ongoing civil war in Syria so that peace can be restored and the displaced could return to their homes. Other speeches labeled the United States and its allies as " responsible for the war with some Arab countries," reflecting the frustrations that Syrians have with world powers who they see as largely abandoning them and exacerbating the crisis.

"There is no real Eid this year. We are hurt and in pain and distress. We are in need inside our tents and living barely in what resembles jail cells," said Salima al-Rafei originally from Aleppo, highlighting the general poverty facing many displaced Syrians.

After reciting a famous Arab poem for an audience, a college professor from Idlib, who requested anonymity, tells Xinhua that " Eid did not come this year as we wished." Living with his eight children in a cramped tent in the Marjeyoun plains in the southeast Lebanon, he says he could not bring joy to his family this year because he lacks enough money to buy them presents, like new clothes, as they normally do during the Eid.

Many parents, unable to afford pricey clothes or other Eid gifts, opt to give their children cheap toys instead. In the camps, plastic guns are popular among the little ones, but they are also a grim reminder of the social trauma suffered by the community.

As the children play, hiding behind trees and bushes around the camp, they simulate the horrors they have seen in Syria. The games focus mainly on war and "arresting enemies," ten-year-old Samer al- Hajji says, while playing with friends.

"We finally defeated the enemy and stripped them from their weapons. I wish we can see the same in our country."

Elsewhere in the camp, Amira al-Issa lifts a tray, offering cheap sweets to those in neighboring tents in an effort to share the spirit of Eid despite the daily hardships.

"We try to make our children feel the joy of the Eid, but we still feel the pain and wonder about our unknown future," she says. "We hope that peace will be restored in Syria soon. Returning home would bring us the greatest joy."

Most Syrians displaced in Lebanon have fled their war-torn country in successive waves since March 2011, when protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad quickly devolved into a full-scale armed conflict.

According to the latest statistics from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Lebanon hosts more than 1.1 million Syrians. And expectations are that the number would reach 1.5 million by the year end.


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