Update on Refugee Status in Lebanon

THE SYRIAN REFUGEE CRISIS

Update on Refugee Status in LebanonAfter five years of brutal conflict, the crisis in Syria continues to create immense suffering. According to the Syrian Centre for Policy Research, fatalities linked to the war have now reached 470,000 people. [1] Syria is also currently home to the highest number of “Internally Displaced Persons” in the world. Based on the last reported statistics in 2015, 40% of the country’s population – 7.6 million people – have had to flee the violence. [2]  For a large number of families, returning home after the conflict subsides will not be an option. Reports reveal that 1.2 million homes (a stunning 30% of Syria’s housing stock as of 2014) have been damaged or destroyed. [3]

It is then understandable that many have sought to escape the internal situation in Syria. The most recent data available reveals that 4.8 million Syrian refugees have spilled over borders and into surrounding nations. [4]

Syria’s smallest neighbor, Lebanon, now “ranks first in the world in refugees per capita,” and the UN reports that 1.2 million Syrian refugees now reside there. “This amounts to over 20 percent of the country’s population,” states the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “but around 3.3 million people, both refugees and vulnerable Lebanese, are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance.” [5]

 

Countries with the most refugees per capita
As the plight and presence of refugees in Lebanon seems to become old news, the experience of these families becomes increasingly difficult. Reports from September, 2015 revealed that 70% of Syrian refugee families in Lebanon are living below the national poverty line of $3.84/day (USD). [6]  A survey conducted by UNHCR in 2015 reveals that “55 percent of Syrians are living in poor shelter conditions compared with 31.5 per cent in 2013.”[7]  Their need for relief and humanitarian aid, then, is increasing, despite common assumptions that perhaps they could be finding ways to settle and achieve stability. The UN notes that, “as their displacement extends and their savings deplete, refugees’ socio-economic vulnerability increases.” [8] The suffering is especially intensified for refugee women. According to the UN, one fifth of Syrian households in Lebanon, and nearly one third of households of Palestinian refugees who have fled Syria and now reside in Lebanon, are headed by women. [9] Interviews with many of these women reveal that they endure harassment and danger from those who know they have no legal recourse or safety net. [10]

MEBO’s partners in Lebanon are working faithfully through local churches to address this human need with generosity and love. From October to December, 2015, the Relief and Community Development branch of LSESD served nearly 9,000 families in Lebanon and Syria with monthly food assistance. Desperately needed “winterization” packets were distributed to 1,600 families, and 1,250 Syrian children were given access to education, whether enrolled in alternative education projects or offered supplemental educational opportunities in “Child Friendly Spaces.”

 

[1] New York Times. “Death Toll from War in Syria Now 470,000, Group Finds.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/12/world/middleeast/death-toll-from-war-in-syria-now-470000-group-finds.html?_r=0. (Retrieved February 23, 2016).

[2] Relief Web. “Global Overview 2015: People Internally Displaced by Conflict and Violence.” http://reliefweb.int/report/world/global-overview-2015-people-internally-displaced-conflict-and-violence. (Retrieved April 26, 2015).

[3] Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. “Global Overview 2015: People Internally Displaced by Conflict and Violence.” http://www.internal-displacement.org/assets/library/Media/201505-Global-Overview-2015/201505-Global-Overview-Highlights-document-en.pdf. (Retrieved February 23, 2016).

[4] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “Inter-Agency Regional Update: Syrian Refugees.”  http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php. (Retrieved February 23, 2016).

[5] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “2015 UNHCR Country Operations Profile: Lebanon.” http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/page?page=49e486676. (Retrieved February 23, 2016).

[6] Amnesty International. “Lebanon: ‘I Want a Safe Place’: Refugee Women from Syria Uprooted and Unprotected in Lebanon.” https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde18/3210/2016/en/ (Retrieved February 23, 2016).

[7] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “Inter-Agency Regional Update: Syrian Refugees.”  http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php. (Retrieved February 23, 2016).

[8] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “2015 UNHCR Country Operations Profile: Lebanon.” http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/page?page=49e486676. (Retrieved February 23, 2016).

[9] UNHCR. “Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon 2015. http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/download.php?id=10006.  (Retrieved February 25, 2016). UNRWA. “Profiling the Vulnerabilities of Palestine Refugees from Syria Living in Lebanon.” http://www.unrwa.org/resources/reports/profiling-vulnerability-palestine-refugees-syria-living-lebanon (Retrieved February 25, 2016).

[10] Amnesty International. “Lebanon: ‘I Want a Safe Place’: Refugee Women from Syria Uprooted and Unprotected in Lebanon.” https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde18/3210/2016/en/ (Retrieved February 23, 2016).

[11] Forbes. “The Countries with the Most Refugees Per Capita.” http://blogs-images.forbes.com/niallmccarthy/files/2015/06/20150618_Refugees_Fo.jpg. (Retrieved June 26, 2015).

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