by ARCHER THOMAS Mar. 27, 2019
According to most long-time inhabitants of Kis Omak, a refugee camp in Lebanon, it all started with the opening of a trendy, hipster latrine called “Shitspot.” Within a week, hundreds of marginally-less traumatized refugees from Iraq began flooding the mostly Syrian camp, driving up rents and diminishing the quirky charm the camp had developed.
“It’s terrible,” Abu Sharmouta, a resident of Kis Omak for five years, laments. “Kis Omak used to be a cute, low-key collection of tents and hovels until those damned Iraqis arrived with their clothes and lack of chemical burns all over their bodies. Just because they don’t reflexively seek cover whenever they hear a loud noise doesn’t mean they’re better than us.”
Before the newcomers arrived, the average monthly cost of living for families was $5 and a pack of cigarettes for the creepy UN Peacekeepers at the gate. Now, rents have risen to an astronomical $7 and the Peacekeepers only accept menthols. In order to cover costs, many have resorted to smuggling or worse: driving for Uber.
The acute shortage of affordable housing has been exacerbated by a shortage of concrete, wood, nails, wiring, glass, tarps, hammers, mud, water, and pretty much everything else needed to build or inhabit a house. The UNHCR, when reached for comment, merely replied “Wait, that war’s still going on?”
Gentrification at Kis Omak has not been completely detrimental. According to Oxfam, the condition of streets in the camp has improved from “mostly covered in human feces” to “only somewhat covered in human feces.” There’s now even a weekly farmers market, although half of the potatoes local farmers unearth are undetonated landmines.
Abu Sharmouta is not optimistic about staying at the camp. “We’ve been priced out of Kis Omak. I guess we’ll have to go somewhere cheaper—maybe Queens.”