With Lebanon fraying at the seams under pressure from the neighbouring Syria conflict and the economy stuttering amid a political vacuum, more and more children are being pushed into labour.
The surprise resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Nijab Mikati eclipsed his last major manoeuvre, which was to refer to parliament a highly contentious wage scale hike for the public sector. Teachers and staff across the public sector started an open strike on Feb. 20 when then prime minister Nijab Mikati failed to send the wage scale policy - which had previously been agreed upon by the cabinet - to the parliament for vote.
The influx of hundreds of thousands of war-weary refugees from Syria to Lebanon is putting an almost unbearable strain on many of the communities that have taken them into their homes. A domestic economic crisis compounded by the arrival of such large numbers of refugees is weighing heavily on many impoverished areas.
One couple’s modest marriage in Lebanon has catapulted them into media limelight and sparked a national debate pitting the Prime Minister against the President while eliciting stern condemnation from leading religious figures. Their union is both exceptional and controversial - it is the first civil marriage in the country.
Zuhur al-Khalaf is eight months pregnant and lives in a one-room shack in northern Lebanon with her husband and five children. The cloth walls and cardboard roof have become sodden and musty after heavy storms this past week, and two of the children are suffering from fevers and chest infections.
A group of six men listen as voices crackle through a walkie-talkie. They are sitting in a farmhouse in the north of Lebanon less than a kilometre from the Syrian border. The sound of gunfire and shelling in the distance sporadically punctuates the atmosphere. One of the group returns to the room after taking a telephone call. “Good news from the battle,” he exclaims with a smile.
Two floors have been ripped from the top of an apartment block in Aleppo in northern Syria. A lone man stands amidst the rubble four stories up after a missile from one of his own government’s fighter jets smashed into the building that morning. With his arms crossed, the solitary figure surveys the destruction around him.
Age-old battlegrounds in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli have descended into violence once again. While the events are highly disturbing they are not necessarily surprising for Lebanon’s residents, who have grown accustomed to violent clashes along the impoverished sectarian divides in the city.
The Lebanese army seized a ship last weekend carrying three containers filled with weapons reportedly intended for Syria’s rebel fighters. Although Lebanon has remained relatively stable throughout the sustained violence next door in Syria, this discovery is the most recent reminder that the country is far from immune to the unrest plaguing its neighbour.