Debunked: 300,000 Syrian refugees are not pregnant in Lebanon
A Lebanese newspaper has reported that 300 thousand Syrian refugees would give birth this year in Lebanon, prompting officials to debunk the viral fake news.
Addiyar, which supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, published a report on Wednesday that claimed that 300,000 Syrian refugees were currently pregnant and expecting in Lebanon.
"International organisations involved in the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon have submitted reports that of the 1.6 million refugees 300,000 women will give birth in 2017," the pro-regime daily said without providing a source for the information.
"This will bring the number refugees to 2 million," it added.
The news soon went viral on social media in Lebanon, where the over one million Syrian refugees make up roughly a quarter of its current population of four million, and where they face daily racism and tough restrictions.
Mounia Amrani, Medical Coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, told The Daily Star that such a number was impossible.
"The number is exaggerated and really strange. We can expect an estimated number of about 80,000 [pregnant women] maximum," Amrani said.
"The Syrian women that come to us for aid often request and use methods of family planning. So the fact that these figures are so high doesn’t make sense with practices we see," she added.
Minister of State for Refugee Affairs Mouin Merehbi told local media that the claims were 'fake news' and part of an anti-Syrian refugee agenda in Lebanon.
"There is no way that number can be right," Merehbi said.
Lebanon's infrastructure, already devastated by a 15-year civil war that ended in 1990, has been further strained by the influx of refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
Many refugees face growing xenophobic sentiment as they compete with local Lebanese in the job market and overwhelm public institutions such as health care and education.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri has warned of "huge tensions" between Lebanese and Syrians in many host communities that could implode into "civil unrest".