In May, the father of a Syrian acquaintance of mine passed away in Beirut, where the family had fled from Aleppo shortly after the onset of war in Syria. On top of grieving and attending to his grieving mother, “Hassan” had to then sort out a location to bury his father.
It’s common knowledge that life in Lebanon is rough for Syrian refugees, who’ve had to contend with discrimination and violence, deadly winters, intermittent Syrian-specific curfews, and fluctuating and ambiguous rules - including the absurd requirement that poor refugees with no income pay money to obtain a notarised form promising that they won’t work. But death in Lebanon constitutes another headache altogether.
Inquiring at one of the main Beirut cemeteries near the Badaro area, Hassan was told by the security guard on duty that a “donation” of at least $10,000 was necessary to facilitate approval for a burial plot. If he was looking for a cheaper option, the guard said, lesser donations were accepted at the “Palestinian cemetery” next door - apparently referred to as such based on the fact that it hosts the remains of numerous Palestinian fighters from the civil war era.
A quick tour of that cemetery, however, left Hassan with the sneaking suspicion that the relative discount may have in part been a result of underhanded practices by the undertakers, such as digging up and reselling unvisited plots. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.