The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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April 2, 2014

ILoubnan - Syrian woman in Tripoli retriggers debate by setting herself on fire, April 2, 2014

Global debate regarding Syrian refugees in Lebanon was retriggered after one woman, unable to feed her four children, set herself on fire.

Mariam al-Khawli restarted the debate, about how much neighboring countries and global aid organizations owe Syrian refugees, when she set herself on fire Tuesday in Tripoli in protest against UNHCR’s decision to cut aid to Syrian families with a “male breadwinner”.

According to the UN appeal, Lebanon’s humanitarian support need for 2014 is $1.8 billion. Yet, only 14 percent was funded as of March 21. Mariam is one of 992,000 refugees in Lebanon, a small country of 4.4 million. Worldwide humanitarian needs are quickly lapping humanitarian supporters’ ability to provide. When there is a lack of assistance, only those in desperate need are offered aid.

"The reason she threw herself into the fire was because the UNHCR stopped providing Syrian refugees with in-kind aid as well as food aid, claiming that some refugees do not meet the set conditions to receive aid,” said her husband a day following the incident, according to Syria Deeply website.

The UNHCR set new regulations claiming that for any family to be eligible for aid, it must not have a male provider capable of working and earning an income.

Mariam’s husband is in good condition and capable of working. However, he cannot find a job in a city that has a high unemployment rate and is already overpopulated with Syrians.

Additionally, her husband claimed that following the new regulation, UNHCR stopped giving them aid, adding that “the refugee card we had, which allowed us to receive in-kind assistance and food aid as well as $50 per person, had been cancelled.”

An anonymous UNHCR source quoted by Syria Deeply said that “the rations and aid, which include food and clothing, only benefit those who don’t have a provider, mainly women, children and people with special needs.” Therefore Mariam’s family wasn’t included, due to the fact that her husband was capable of providing for the family, regardless of his inability to find a job.

According to Syria Deeply, Doctor Gabriel al-Sabe’, the coroner who examined Marian, says that she had second-degree burns over 75 percent of her body and third-degree burns over much of the rest.

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