Franklin Lamb (Damascus)
So what became of the four children rescued from a Beirut Street?
Given the unanticipated intense interest in the subject of my article ( See Oped News Why I bought 4 Syrian children off a Beirut street March 11, 2016) which resulted in the receipt of more than 1000 emails, approximately 130 being requests or inquiries about adopting the children (as if I had any right or role with the children's future, since engaging in the instantaneous transaction with the "vendor" that day related only to the reality of an in extremis situation that prompted a spur of the moment gesture to find safety for the little ones and report the case to authorities), an update about the four beauties is warranted. Unwittingly, the four beauties achieved much for humanity, as suddenly many in Lebanon engaged publicly with the subject of abused Syrian refugee children.
Shortly after the Ramlet el Baida event with the lady who sought money in exchange for the children, they were returned to the Aleppo area of Syria and are being cared for by distant relatives. A female relative of the children who learned about what had become of them appeared and it was clear from the children's reaction of running to her and hugging her that they knew her and wanted to be with her. After verifying her connection with the children she took custody of them and a few days after their departure from Lebanon the note below appeared outside this observer's south Beirut apartment door:
This observer met again with the children, this time in Syria, and also with their "uncle Khalid." They appear very well and seem as secure for the moment as is anyone living these days in north Syria near Aleppo. They have food and a clean place to live and play with other children. When we met again we were all very happy and the older child remembered well the American "hide & seek" game we played in Beirut and insisted that we do it again. And his little sister blurted out from memory the "Ready or not, here I come!" call-out that starts the "hide & seek" search. They love that game and have taught it to their friends including the covering of the seekers eyes without peeking and counting loudly to ten.
But they are not in school yet. Their parents remain missing and reportedly were killed.
These children's experience and public interest in them caused the Lebanese authorities to take more seriously reports of refugee children endangerment. At the urging of this observer and others, the Internal Security Forces now patrol Ramlet el Baida strip with undercover officers as shown in the photo below. Their efforts are preventing young girls from Syria and elsewhere selling themselves to the occupants of cars that pull up to purchase "roses" or offer money to young boys. The street kids have as of 6/1/2016 largely disappeared, at least for now. Hopefully to a more safe area with proper housing and assistance from NGO's. More research is required to monitor their wellbeing. Hopefully the police will continue their humanitarian work and will respond seriously to reports from a concerned citizenry. The observer credits the 4 Syrian children with getting the attention of local authorities and helping other endangered children at Ramlet el Baida beach strip.
(photo: fplamb) Credit due to the Internal Security Force (ISF) Lebanon's police force that eventually, after many submitted reports from eyewitnesses, has last month agreed to send undercover cops to Ramlet el Baida strip. This observer's friend, 12-year-old "Leila" from Aleppo shown above, and other Syrian children preyed upon by pedophiles using a pretense of "buying roses" are not currently working there. Vigilance by ISF undercover cops, one pictured below, will protect these hungry Syrian refugee children as long as they stay on the job until the kids can return to Syria.
(photo: fplamb) Not only girls are being hunted along Ramlet el Baida beach. Many young Syrian males who may be their family's only breadwinner are vulnerable as they desperately seek to earn cash to feed their loved ones.
(photo: fplamb) ISF undercover cops in unmarked cars with cameras on the right side of the dashboard are alert as a result of the 4 Syrian children case and the public pressure it placed on multiple Lebanese government agencies. Beirut police are finally patrolling Ramlet el Baida beach and are protecting Syrian, Palestinian and other refugee children. All praises to them if they continue their vigilance until the refugee children can return home and to the only place they want to be - which is Syria. When that can happen, as we all know, is anyone's guess.
Police Crack-down on the Prostitution Network
Another consequence of the attention given to the case of the 4 Syrian refugee children being "bought" at Ramlet el Baida beach was to provoke a long delayed police action shutting down a Syrian refugee girls (and women) sex slave operation in Maameltein, the red-light district of Jounieh about twenty miles north of Beirut on Mediterranean coast.