A Syrian refugee in Beirut set himself ablaze outside the offices of UN refugee agency, a UN official said on Thursday. Living conditions for the 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon have long been deteriorating.
A Syrian refugee in Lebanon tried to self-immolate outside the offices of the UN refugee agency in Beirut's Bir Hassan area, a spokesman for the organization said Thursday.
"In a tragic incident today, a Syrian refugee set himself on fire in Beirut," UNHCR said on Twitter.
The victim "was rescued & immediately taken to hospital where he is receiving the necessary medical care," UNHCR said further.
While UNHCR did not say why the Syrian tried to self-immolate, a spokesman for Lebanon's internal security forces (ISF) told AFP the motive was not being able to afford medical treatment for his sick daughter.
The ISF spokesman also said the man was in a stable condition. "We request that the identity and privacy of the victim be protected while the necessary medical attention is given," UNHCR spokesperson Omer Elnaiem told dpa.
Shortly after the incident, a small group of Syrian refugees gathered in front of the UNHCR office and called for improved living conditions, dpa reported.
Dire situation for Syrian refugees
According to Lebanese authorities, the country hosts 1.5 million Syrians, nearly 900,000 of whom are officially registered as refugees with the United Nations. Neighboring Syria has been in a state of civil war for nearly a decade.
Over the past year or so, living conditions of Syrian refugees further deteriorated as Lebanon plunged into its worst economic crisis since the county's civil war ended in 1990.
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and an explosion on August 4 at Beirut's port further exacerbated Lebanon's economic woes. The blast killed over 200 people, at least 34 of them refugees.
"The loss of income, coupled with the devaluation of the Lebanese pound and the simultaneous rise in prices, has led to a dramatic rise in poverty among Syrian refugees over a short period of time," UNHCR's Elnaiem told dpa.
Looking for a way out, hundreds of Syrians have attempted the dangerous crossing from Lebanon to Cyprus via the Mediterranean in recent months.
The Lebanese government, meanwhile, has continued to call for the repatriation of the refugees -- in spite of warnings from aid groups and international agencies that it is not safe to return.
With AFP, dpa