A Syrian refugee camp that housed around 150 tents in Lebanon was set alight on Thursday night in the town of Deir al-Ahmar.
The camp, which was home to hundreds of refugees, was completely burned down after a clash between Lebanese police and refugees from the camp causing all refugees to leave the camp.
This comes after refugees in the camp had severe restrictions imposed on them, including a curfew after locals called for them to be forcibly removed from the area.
The Syrian refugees fought back against the restrictions, causing clashes with police forces, according to local media. The tension escalated on Wednesday when the refugees threw rocks at a fire engine, severely injuring one fire-fighter and smashing the windshield of the truck.
Subsequently, 33 Syrian men were arrested and the camp was requested to be shut down by Deir al-Ahmar’s Mayor Latif Qazah, before it was burned down later on at night.
Estimations of the number of refugees displaced after the camp was shuttered has varied significantly. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimating around 385, whereas local media outlets are reporting a much higher amount of 700 refugees.
In a statement, Lisa Abou Khaled, a spokesperson for the UNHCR, told local paper The Daily Star that around 71 families are now staying with either friends or relatives, or in nearby areas.
Refugees interviewed by the UNHCR said they fled the area leaving everything behind, including life necessities such as identification paperwork and medicine.
She deplored the “collective punishment” used by the Lebanese authorities and urged proper care for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
“It is important that tensions and incitation to violence are controlled to ensure a peaceful environment for both communities. A collective punishment of Syrian refugees in Lebanon will further escalate the situation,” she said in a statement.
“It is important that the refugees who evacuated from the site are allowed to return to collect their belongings from their tents,” she added.
The attackers have not yet been found, but many suspect it may have been someone who wanted to remove all traces of Syrian refugees from the area.