West Vancouver man’s donations stuck in Beirut airport

VANCOUVER — A West Vancouver barber’s good deed is going punished. For decades, Michel Ibrahim has been sending soccer equipment to refugee children in the Middle East.

He was inspired by a trip home, when he saw children playing his favourite sport with just one old ball. Ever since, he’s been collecting the equipment and sending it overseas. But his latest shipment is currently stuck at the airport in Beirut, where it will be held unless he pays thousands of dollars.

“I have to pay $3,500 and they give me 10 days to release it, otherwise after 10 days they will charge me $60 a day storage,” he says.

The 4,000 pieces of used soccer gear for children were sent to Lebanon last month, meant for children in refugee camps around the country. When Ibrahim’s nephew went to the airport with a truck, he was turned away. Ibrahim called customs officials in the country and explained what the equipment was for, but was told he had to send the money before it would be released, he tells Global News.

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“It’s a lot of money to pay out for no reason, for just a used soccer jersey sitting at an airport.”

–With files from Jill Bennett.