He was taken to an interrogation room, where a plainclothes security official “wanted to know who gave me the passport, and I told him what I knew, but that wasn’t much,” Ghaith said. “When he saw my university I.D. card, he said, ‘Look at you. You’re studying law? You think you know what the law is? Look what you’re doing!’ ” Ghaith was slapped repeatedly across the face, then sent to jail, where he was strip-searched. “You reach a point when you become numb,” he recalls. “I was standing there naked. I felt like I was not a human anymore.”
He and about fifty other foreigners shared a dark cell, sleeping on the floor. They had to defecate in buckets. Ghaith didn’t know where he was, or who was in charge. In 2013, the Lebanese Center for Human Rights revealed the existence of a fetid, overcrowded detention facility for foreign nationals in a former underground parking garage in Beirut. Nadim Houry, a Human Rights Watch researcher, said that some refugees had been kept there for “weeks, months, and even years” while awaiting deportation. One day, Ghaith watched, horrified, as a pregnant prisoner fell to the floor, blood pooling around her. “I don’t know what happened to her,” he said.
Harrowing. I don’t know what the right answer is, or how to fix the multitude of problems that created this crisis, but what I do know is that stories like this demand our attention, our respect, and our concern.