Syrian refugees find little cheer on Muslim feast

Mon Nov 7, 2011 6:58am EST
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By Erika Solomon

WADI KHALED, Lebanon (Reuters) - On the last Muslim holiday in August, 10-year-old Sindous fled on foot with her family from the shelling and bloodshed in Syria's town of Tel Kalakh, where her father was shot dead.

Two months later, for the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha, the skinny, brown-eyed girl in jeans and a fading pink sweater says there is no cause for joy in the cold, grey, abandoned school where her family has taken refuge with 17 other families.

"My father's dead. Our home was destroyed. There's nothing here to celebrate. I don't feel like it is Eid this year," she said, watching refugee children play in the muddy schoolyard.

More than 3,800 Syrians have registered with the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR in north Lebanon, which borders Syria's Homs province, after fleeing a particularly bloody center of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

"My mother and everyone here says next year the regime will be gone, we will be home for Eid. But I'm scared the regime won't fall. I'm scared we'll stay here forever," Sindous said.

Neither she nor any other refugees would give their full name for fear of retribution against their relatives still in the Syrian town of Tel Kalakh, most of whom are active in the revolt against 41 years of Assad family rule.

Some who fled to north Lebanon, across a border marked by a river trickling between green banks and thickets, say their relatives have taken up arms against the Syrian military.

Sympathies are split in Wadi Khaled, a remote part of north Lebanon where smuggling thrived until Syria's troubles disrupted trade. Many families here have relatives across the border.   Continued...

<p>A Syrian refugee girl carries a doll that she received from a women's non-profit charity organization on the first day of Eid al-Adha, at an abandoned school in Wadi Khaled area, northern Lebanon, November 6, 2011. REUTERS/ Omar Ibrahim</p>