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Syrian refugees salvage belongings from the wreckage of their shelters at a camp set on fire overnight in the northern Lebanese town of Bhanine on Dec. 27, 2020, following a fight between members of the camp and a local Lebanese family.

IBRAHIM CHALHOUB/AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of Syrian refugees fled their makeshift camp in north Lebanon after their tents were torched when fighting broke out between local youths and camp residents, aid officials said on Sunday.

At least three people were wounded in the clash on Saturday in the Miniyeh region near the coastal city of Tripoli, which was followed by youths setting the campsite on fire, Lebanon’s state-owned National News Agency said.

Lebanon has seen a rise in tensions between refugees and residents in recent years that humanitarian workers and politicians say have been fuelled by both racism and anger of Lebanese who blame refugees for taking their jobs amid a financial crisis.

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Lebanon has more than a million Syrian refugees who have fled their homes since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011. Many are migrant workers and a main source of cheap labour for the construction and agriculture sectors.

Damascus urged Lebanon’s judicial authorities and its security forces to “shoulder their responsibility” to ensure its nationals were protected.

“Syria regrets the fire … that led to terrifying its inhabitants and them being deprived of a shelter,” the Syrian foreign ministry said in a statement on state media.

Khaled Kabarra, a UN refugee agency spokesman, said the nearly 400 residents who fled the camp went to other enclosed encampments or found temporary shelter in vacant schools and hotels.

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