Anti-refugee rhetoric is on the rise in Lebanon and pressure on Syrian refugees to return is increasing. Refugees are being pushed back to Syria, through a combination of restrictive government policies, dire humanitarian conditions, and discrimination.
The Higher Defence Council declared in mid-April that all “semi-permanent structures" built by Syrian refugees using materials other than timber and plastic sheeting in informal tented settlements (ITS) must be deconstructed. The authorities had set a 9 June deadline for Syrian refugees to bring their homes into compliance (after which any non-compliant structures would be demolished); however, the date has been postponed until the end of June.
Some 19% of Syrian households in Lebanon are estimated to reside in non-permanent structures, mainly ITS. However, the number of Syrian refugees living in structures at risk of demolition in ITS is unclear. The demolition will contribute significantly to the deterioration of living conditions for the affected refugees in ITS and may act as push factors for returns.
Potential aggravating factors include exposure to the harsh winter (December – March) and inadequate infrastructure in ITS, increasing tensions with host community, and the status of some 565,000 unregistered Syrian refugees.