|Date: Feb 9, 2019|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|Eleven-year-old boy found hanged in refugee camp|
|Sahar Houri| The Daily Star|
BEIRUT: An 11-year-old Syrian boy from Idlib was found hanged in a refugee settlement in Marjayoun’s Marj al-Khoukh Friday. The boy, identified by his initials M.H., was found in a tent used to store wood. The storage tent is usually located in a relatively remote area and away from other tents, a source at Amel Association, which attends to refugee needs in the camp, told The Daily Star.
The boy’s family could not be reached for comment, but the source, who is close to the camp’s residents, said the boy’s family did not have any information regarding the incident. The other children at the camp, who spoke to the association, said the boy had a dispute with his parents, according to the source.
A security source told The Daily Star that a preliminary investigation found only the child’s fingerprints at the crime scene, which diminished the probability of murder.
The association source said the camp’s residents did not hear anything or see anything suspicious regarding the incident. The boy’s parents also told the association that they are used to M.H. being outside the house for long times because he would often go outside to play.
The source said the boy owned a phone, which the association’s social workers requested to browse “in case he was in contact with anyone or he played a game that caused him to [commit suicide].” Last year the Internal Security Forces issued a warning about certain online games that allegedly encourage self-harm and even suicide. The source said the family refused to give the phone to the workers, but gave it to security forces for investigation.
Another source at the association cast doubt on the possibility of suicide, saying that the boy was in a “good psychological condition,” but could have been subject to domestic violence, as there have been multiple reported cases of violence and bullying at the camp.
The source said this camp, like many other refugee camps, is home to many families facing psychological difficulties in adapting to their new situation.
“Some [children at the camp] are traumatized, either from what they saw as a result of the war [in Syria] or what they hear from their parents about their experience.”
The source also said the boy had recently stopped attending school. Yesterday, one of his teachers reported to the social workers the boy had not been attending for more than two days. “The social worker decided to visit the boy’s family to check up on him during the routine biweekly visit Monday. It was too late.”
“He was very clever. He would get his bag every day and attend an afternoon school in Marjayoun,” the source added. “Even his cousin who took him to the hospital said there was nothing that would lead him to [commit suicide].”
According to the Amel Association, the camp is the largest for Syrian refugees in south Lebanon, containing over 1,500 tents.