SYRIAN REFUGEES IN LEBANON
About 1.5 million Syrians live in Lebanon, out of which 952,562 are registered with UNHCR. ? Roughly 80% of Syrian refugees are urban refugees and the rest live in informal settlements as there are no formal refugee camps in Lebanon.?The most populated districts are Zahle (160,000 refugees ), in Bekaa governorate; Baalbek (114,000 refugees), in Baalkbek El Hermel governorate; and Akkar (106,000 refugees), in Akkar governorate. Beirut governorate hosts around 19,500 refugees.? Many Syrian refugees live in Arsal municipality, in Baalbek-Hermel governorate, not far from the Syrian border.?
Tensions have been rising between refugees and host communities. Senior politicians have called for refugees to return home despite continued insecurity in Syria. Restrictions on residency permits for UNHCR's international staff, limitations in operational scope, and the restrictive refugee registration policy prevent UNHCR and other partners from fully implementing their humanitarian programmes and to address refugees' needs holistically. ? ?
Syrian refugee returns continue on larger scales. On 16 November, 800 refugees were returning to Syria on a bus organised by Lebanese General Security. ?On 8 November, over 100 refugees returned from Lebanon to Syria from several areas, including Aarsal, Nabatieh and Tyre. ? In October, at least 1,476 Syrian refugees returned to their homeland via official channels. Their destination and needs in Syria are unknown. ? Small-scale returns via smuggling have also occurred in 2018, as some unregistered Syrian refugees cannot afford to pay the $200 per person fee for officially registering in Lebanon or fear screening by Syrian security forces. Many refugees have expressed concern about eventual forced returns if SAA forces declare the conflict to be over.?Russia continues to play an important role in pushing for humanitarian funds, reconstruction efforts, and the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.?
Syrian refugees in Lebanon have cross-sectoral needs, including WASH, health, food, and education. Protection is a priority need. ?
Lebanon also opposes the naturalisation of Palestinians and Syrian refugees.? Politicians have warned that any long-term presence of mainly Sunni Syrian refugees could destabilise Lebanon's sectarian balance.
Protection: The army, General Security Directorate, and the government pressure Syrian refugees to return to Syria. The problem of 'forced' returns affects refugees in Arsal in particular. Reported army raids, fear of random arrest, and lack of protection induce Syrians to return to their home country. For refugees in Arsal, push factors include limited access to social services such as education and health assistance. Returns mainly occur following deals brokered between the Lebanese government, or Hezbollah, and the Syrian government. Some 10,000 Syrian refugees returned from Arsal to Syria between June and September 2017 following a deal brokered by Hezbollah and Syrian rebel factions.?
Syrian refugees are commonly evicted for reasons including security, non-payment of rent, or discrimination. Evictions related to the poor standard of housing - such as situations of precarious security, law, order, or public health - have occurred since 2016. Evictions from properties close to military centres or highways became frequent after 2016.? Human Rights Watch says 3,664 Syrian refugees were forcibly evicted between early 2016 and the first four months of 2018 by municipal authorities allegedly because of their religion and/or nationality, and an additional 42,000 are at risk of eviction. The 3,644 evictions were ad hoc actions taken from municipalities that are, in large majority, Christian.?
The lack of documentation is another main protection issue in Lebanon that prevents refugees from accessing basic services and legal employment, limits their movement, and puts them at risk of fines, arrests, detention, exploitation, and deportation.? Refugees who entered after 5 January 2015 have been deregistered and, since 6 May 2015, registration of new refugees has been suspended.? This has led to increasing numbers of refugees who are undocumented and thus vulnerable. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the UN has recorded 128,000 Syrian births in Lebanon. As of 2016, however, an estimated 70% had not received a birth certificate.? Civil registration procedures remain complex. If the birth of a child is not registered with the local registry office before the child reaches the age of one, a lengthy and often costly court procedure is required, putting children at risk of statelessness.? Syrian Kurds who were denaturalised in Syria in 1962 are also stateless in Lebanon.
Food: 91% of Syrian refugee households are food insecure in some way and 38% are moderately to severely food insecure. Some 87% resort to coping strategies such as buying food on credit, borrowing money, and reducing health expenditure.? Debt has become a serious concern both for the food security of refugees and due to related protection issues. Almost all refugees surveyed by WFP indicated they had incurred debts related to the purchase of food, rent or medical needs, including 94% of households that received no assistance from WFP.?
Livelihoods: 75% of Syrian refugees in Lebanon live below the poverty line.? Most rely primarily on assistance and low-paid unskilled labour as their main source of income. Poor Syrian refugee households adopt negative coping mechanisms, including selling productive assets, housing or land, and household goods, or withdrawing children from school. Borrowing money is reportedly the most common coping mechanism.?
Humanitarian access: There is no major humanitarian access constraint in Lebanon. However, the Lebanese government's refusal to formally recognise Syrians' refugee status and the absence of formal refugee camps results in limited humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian actors usually must help Syrian refugees in need with short-term and repetitive responses, rather than implement longer-term strategies.?