Northern Lebanon is one of the country’s most deprived regions, with severe poverty levels, high numbers of refugees and some of the worst unemployment rates in the country. Out of a total population of 1.1 million people, 708,000 live under the poverty line: 341,000 deprived Lebanese, over 266,000 Syrian refugees, 88,000 Palestine refugees and almost 12,000 Lebanese returnees.
The area consists of two governorates: Akkar and the North. Tripoli, the capital of the North governorate, is the second largest city in the country, while the rest of the region is primarily agricultural. Akkar Governorate shares a 100km border with Syria and has two official crossing points: El Aarida and El Aboudiyeh, where IOM recently refurbished border control facilites. The two governorates host myriad religious sects including Sunni, Alawite, Christian and Shiite. There is a history of armed violence in the area, notably the 2007 battle in Nahr el Bared camp between non-state actors and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
A large number of humanitarian actors operate in the area, notably in health, education, protection and basic assistance. Interagency coordination meetings cover both governorates and take place in Qobbayat and Tripoli on alternating months.
BACKGROUND & CONTEXT (August 2015 - March 2016)
The conflict in Syria has had a strong spillover effect on northern Lebanon, reducing economic and commercial activities and amplifying sectarian tensions. Clashes between the Sunni and Alawite communities – who support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict – tore apart Tripoli’s poor neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab el Tebbaneh from 2008 to 2015, leaving 200 people dead and more than 2,000 injured. The conflict ended in late 2014, but tensions still flare up sporadically. Wadi Khaled, a former hub for informal cross-border trade next to the Syrian border, is another pocket of vulnerability and insecurity.
Due in part to concerns over spillover from the Syria crisis, the Lebanese Armed Forces evicted 1,770 Syrian refugees from their dwellings in 2015 as a stated preventive measure against crime and insecurity. While there was a decrease of civil unrest in the region in 2016, a need for close monitoring of the area persists.
HUMANITARIAN AND STABILIZATION TRENDS
Northern Lebanon has seen a strong influx of Syrian refugees since the beginning of the crisis due to its proximity to hotspots such as Homs, Hama and Idleb: before new entry requirements came into effect in October 2015, the Aboudiyeh border crossing was receiving 4,000 to 5,000 people per day. The arrival of more than 260,000 refugees into northern Lebanon has put a strain on water, electricity, waste manage-ment and other basic services. A majority of Syrian refugees in the area live in challenging urban and semi-urban contexts and large numbers also live in informal tented settlements and collective shelters, particularly in Akkar and Miniyeh-Danniyeh.
There is a major need for livelihood support in Northern Lebanon: the area has the highest unemployment rates in the country, with 65% unemployment in Minniyeh Denieh and almost 60% in Akkar (VASyR 2015). Public institutions including schools and health centers also need more support.
The region also hosts more than 88,000 Palestine refugees in Nahr El Bared and Baddawi camps, including almost 10,000 Palestine refugees from Syria. There are extensive unmet humanitarian needs, with additional strain on services following the arrival of the PRS. The reconstruction of Nahr el Bared camp – which was destroyed in 2007 – is now a priority for UNRWA after a series of funding short-ages and delays.
Humanitarian organizations are working to provide assistance across the area, with projects ranging from latrines to cash for food. Winterization projects are a priority, as Akkar averages an altitude of 700 m: in 2015-2016, 216,000 households received winter support from UNHCR and partners.
MOST VULNERABLE LOCALITIES
There are 63 vulnerable localities in northern Lebanon, 14 of which are classified as “most vulnerable” based on low incomes, lack of access to health, education and water, and poor housing conditions. Twenty-eight of the 63 localities are also considered to be “under high pressure” with Syrians outnumbering Lebanese by a factor of 3 to 1. The most vulnerable localities are along the border with Syria and in the areas east and north of Tripoli.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.