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State of Exception

The permanently temporary status of Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Today, more than 270 million people live outside their country of origin. Many of them are forced to live in legal limbo, protected neither by citizenship nor by official refugee status. Lebanon, which has the highest per-capita refugee population, exemplifies this no-policy policy. The influx of refugees from Syria—three for every ten Lebanese citizens—have been referred to euphemistically as “displaced,” as “guests,” and, increasingly, as “enemies.” Although they are granted some rights by the Lebanese government, refugees are permitted to work only in construction, agriculture, and sanitation, and are consigned to live in makeshift camps. There, they are at the mercy of shawishes, who broker their most basic needs. In this episode, web editor Violet Lucca is joined by journalist Alexander Dziadosz to discuss his piece “State of Exception” from the November 2020 issue of the magazine; the two cover the shawish system, Lebanese politics, the impact of climate change on mass migration, and the future of the Syrian refugee crisis.

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August 2018

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