This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lebanon Shuts the Door Even Tighter on Syrian Refugees

Lebanon is a country of about 5 million people, next door to Syria, which at one time a few years ago had 22 million people. You can understand why Lebanon is hard-pressed to accept any more than the estimated 1.5 million Syrians who have already found refuge there. So, as the LA Times reports, Lebanon has required that anyone from Syria trying to enter Lebanon has to have a visa or a sponsor.
Ali Abdul Karim Ali, Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon, complained in a television interview Sunday that Damascus had not been informed in advance about the new requirements. He said that the measures were “not appropriate” and that coordination on the issue was needed. But Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk defended the move, saying the country had taken in “enough” Syrians. “Lebanon has no ability to receive more refugees,” he said. Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, more than 3 million people have fled the country, most of them across the border to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
Not unexpectedly, the influx of refugees has created tension in Lebanon.
Although Turkey has taken steps to integrate Syrian refugees, including in theory providing education and social services, Lebanon has been less welcoming, in part because of the political implications of absorbing so many Sunnis. The delicate balance of power among the tiny country’s Christian and Sunni and Shiite Muslim factions has been strained by the influx of Syrians and periodically flares into violence.
The UN keeps looking for countries that will take in the Syrian refugees, but it seems to me--and maybe I'm just missing something here--that it has been a long time since I heard anyone talking about trying to do anything meaningful about the Syrian civil war, so that Syrians can stay and try to rebuild their country. Will the civil war just die out on its own? ISIS seems to make that unlikely. Will it fester even more and create a cascade of additional problems? That seems to be where we are, with no real solutions in sight.


  1. Hi Dr Weeks,

    I have been looking for this sort of information for a while now and I finally found something that looks at Islam in Europe beyond 2030 and is written by a decent scholar.

    I thought you might find it to be interesting.

    Abu Daoud

    1. Yes, very interesting indeed. Let me read this thoroughly and then I'll blog about it.