Humanitarian Bulletin Lebanon Issue 15 | 1 December 2015 - 15 January 2016 [EN/AR]
• LCRP 2015 meets the needs of the most vulnerable
• Support to public institutions remains a priority
• Protection challenges for refugees remain of concern
• Onward travel to Europe marks 2015
• Vulnerability worsens despite aid
Security incidents affect humanitarian access in Arsal
The overall security situation in Lebanon in 2015 continued to be relatively volatile. Several hotspots in the country remained of serious concern, in particular Aarsal in the Bekaa, Tripoli in the North, some Palestinian camps and the Blue Line.
The situation deteriorated in the north-eastern border town of Aarsal at the end of March with an intensification of military operations related to the al-Zabadani and Qalamoun battles in Syria. Both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Hezbollah continued targeting with heavy artillery the movements and positions of Islamist Armed Opposition Groups (IAOGs) on the outskirts of Aarsal. The LAF heavily deployed in the area and stepped its security measures erecting checkpoints inside the town, staging patrols and raiding some Syrian Informal Tented Settlements (ITSs). In Aarsal, on 5 November, five people were reportedly killed and several injured in a bombing that targeted a meeting of the al-Qalamoun Muslim Scholars committee. On 6 November, an IED exploded 1 km away from the previous explosion while a LAF patrol was passing. Two civilians were killed in a heavy exchange of fire that followed and five soldiers were injured. Some humanitarian activities had, at times, to be temporarily suspended as a result.
Humanitarian situation worsens; support to public institutions increases
The unfolding crisis in Syria continued to have a profound humanitarian and socio-economic impact on Lebanon and its people. Despite Lebanon’s generosity in hosting refugees, the overall humanitarian and protection situation for many people deteriorated in 2015. This was illustrated by the protracted nature of the crisis in its fifth year, the measures taken by the Government to restrict the entry and stay of refugees in the country, the reduction in food assistance due to funding shortfalls, increased cases of evictions and number of informal settlements, and the depletion of resources for most people.
Public institutions continued to face increased pressure on their systems. The refugee influx has exerted more pressure on water, electricity, and infra-structure. It has also lead to increased visits to primary healthcare centres and schools had to implement double shifts.
With an over 30 per cent population increase since 2011, public institutions as first line responders at the local level need to be supported. This support is important to ensure that service delivery systems do not collapse and to address the needs of both host communities and refugees from Syria. Lebanon currently has 1,108 municipalities, of which studies report that 70 per cent are too small to be able to provide any public services and only 8 per cent provide all core services. In 2015, more than $171.5 million of assistance was channelled through and to public institutions.
At the end of 2015, 95 humanitarian partners were assisting 1,070,189 registered Syrian refugees, 43,000 Palestine Refugees from Syria (PRS), 270,000 Palestine Refugees in Lebanon (PRL) and 1.5 million vulnerable Lebanese, including returnees. Children represent 40 per cent of all beneficiaries, including 53 per cent of Syrian refugees. Geographically, the highest proportion of vulnerable people can be found in Minieh-Danieh district where 75 per cent of all people living there are considered poor.
Humanitarian access impeded by insecurity, bureaucracy
Although humanitarian access in Lebanon can generally be considered good whereby humanitarian actors have freedom of movement in most areas across the country and affected people can reach services; intermittent insecurity and bureaucratic impediments have, at times, affected humanitarian operations. Insecurity and clashes in some Palestinian camps such as in Ein el Hilweh camp in Saida on 24 August, temporarily displaced as many as 3,000 people and prevented UNRWA from having full access and movement in and around the camp for several days, which hampered the agency’s ability to deliver essential services. A backlog of work permits and delays in issuing visas for international staff has forced international NGOs to delay the implementation of some of their programmes; negatively affecting the services they provide to vulnerable Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians.
Some humanitarian activities had to be temporarily suspended in Aarsal throughout the year when clashes became too fierce, as for instance in early November in the aftermath of the two explosions.