JUAN LACAZE, Uruguay (AP) -- When Uruguay announced last year that it would be taking in five families fleeing Syria's devastating civil war, residents of this small town pulled together and lobbied to host one.
Then in November, locals welcomed a newly arrived Merhi Alshebli, his wife and their 15 children with food and seeds to plant vegetables. People in Juan Lacaze, a coastal city of fishermen and paper factory workers in southwestern Uruguay, wanted to do their part to help a country where more than 200,000 have been killed in the fighting.
But after months of the Syrians' complaints about their living conditions and demands to be sent to another country, many Uruguayans in this town and elsewhere have come to see the refugees more as rude, ungrateful guests. This month the 51-year-old Alshebli shocked locals by dousing himself in gasoline in protest, furthering Uruguayans' indignation and sense that this South American nation's humanitarian gesture has gone off the rails.
"I'm outraged," said Monica Benitez, who works at a shoe store in Juan Lacaze's tiny downtown. "What they are doing is offensive."
The Syrians' discontent is playing out as hundreds of thousands of their compatriots are risking their lives to migrate to Europe and world leaders from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Pope Francis have urged nations to open their doors to the flood. The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to take in 10,000 Syrians over the next year.