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 13, 2016

Lebanon Closing Doors to Syrian Refugees

The UN Population Division estimates that Syria's population is currently about 18 million, down from 21 million in 2010. The violence has killed a lot of people and has displaced millions. The Humanitarian Information Unit of the US State Department estimated a few months ago that there were then more than 4 million Syrians seeking refuge outside of the country, with another 8 million internally displaced in the country (see the map below). Overall, two out of every three Syrians is estimated to need help of some kind or another. But that isn't easy, as we all have seen on the news, and as I commented on just a couple of days ago. The latest bit of bad news comes from Lebanon where, according to the NYTimes, the limit seems to have been reached when it comes to accommodating their next-door neighbors.
After taking in a million Syrian refugees, Lebanon has quietly changed course in recent months, forcing refugees to return to Syria — where they are at risk of persecution or death — or stay illegally, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
Lebanon in 2015 reversed a longstanding open-door policy for Syrians that allowed them to enter the country and reside there relatively unencumbered. At a minimum, they must now pay $200 per adult for a permit that lasts between six and 12 months, obtained through an onerous bureaucratic process that accompanies each application.
Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director for Human Rights Watch, said most of refugees have lost their legal status over the past year because of the new regulations.
What is going to happen to these people? And what about the refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq? As hard as it is to wrap your mind around this, the answer is simply that no one knows. 

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