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Iraqis Taking Refuge in Lebanon - A Persisting Humanitarian Challenge

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Estimating the Size and Geographical Distribution of Iraqis in Lebanon from a Service Need Perspective

A Key Informant Survey


The most recent survey on Iraqis in Lebanon, conducted by DRC in 2007, presented two population estimates: a figure of 26 thousand Iraqis which was based on indirect estimation using UNHCR figures and relating them to the proportion registered in UNHCR derived from survey results. The second figure which was adopted by consensus was 50 thousand and it was derived from the GSO data. The first figure reflected the perspective of service needs while the second estimate reflected the general population of Iraqis in Lebanon.

The central locations of residence of Iraqis in Lebanon were relatively stable between 2005 and 2007. Findings from both surveys indicated a majority who resided in the Beirut metropolitan area in the eastern and the southern suburbs. The 2007 survey unraveled a clustering in Nabatieh city. Smaller population densities were found in villages surrounding Nabatieh, Tyre, and in areas in Mount Lebanon other than the greater Beirut including Chouf in the south and Keserwan in the northern part of Mount Lebanon. Small clustering was found in the North, in the Beqaa in Baalbeck and Hermel areas, with verbal accounts referring to Iraqis in Western Beqaa.

Both surveys pointed to a demographic pattern particular to the Christian population. The first survey found that the Christian influx was on the increase. The 2007 survey found that one quarter of the population interviewed were Christians.

Comparing the 2005 and 2007 surveys, an increasing trend of persons staying legally in the country is observed. Sizeable proportions were residing illegally in the country: only one among the 1,334 family members included in the survey reported staying legally in Lebanon in 2005 survey3. The 2007 survey found a ratio of one individual with legal status to two individuals with illegal status4. Moreover, both surveys showed patterns on religious/ethnic divide: the 2005 survey reported an increase in migration to Lebanon among Christian Iraqis.

Thus from the perspective of humanitarian service provision, the major conclusion from reading the findings of the 2005 and 2007 surveys is that the 2005 survey figure of 20 thousand individuals and the 2007 survey figure of 26 thousand individuals, which was based on UNHCR data and percent registered in UNHCR, reflect the size of prospective beneficiaries of relief and resettlement services since the first figure was arrived at by consensus with UNHCR and major service providers at the community level at the time while the second figure was based on UNHCR data which reflect service needs as well as findings from field visits with vulnerable Iraqis.


The main objectives of this key informant survey are the following:

- Estimation of current size of beneficiaries and prospective beneficiaries of relief and resettlement services among Iraqis in Lebanon

- Estimation of geographical distribution of beneficiaries and prospective beneficiaries of relief and resettlement services among Iraqis in Lebanon.

- Reflections on short term population dynamics among Iraqis in Lebanon from the perspective of humanitarian service provision.