Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan 2015-16: Lebanon

Response Plan

OVERVIEW

Lebanon is not a State Party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and has not signed its 1967 Protocol. Lebanon implements some provisions of the Convention on a voluntary basis and considers that granting the refugee status to individuals lies within its margin of discretion.

The Government of Lebanon stresses on all occasions its longstanding position reaffirming that Lebanon is neither a country of asylum, nor a final destination for refugees, let alone a country of resettlement.

Lebanon considers that it is being subject to a situation of mass influx and reserves the right to take measures align with international law and practice in such situations. The Government of Lebanon refers to individuals who fled from Syria to Lebanon after March 2011 as “displaced”.

The United Nations characterizes the flight of civilians from Syria as a refugee movement, and considers that most of these Syrians are seeking international protection and are likely to meet the refugee definition.

Therefore, the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan uses the following terminologies to refer to persons who have fled from Syria after March 2011:

1. "persons displaced from Syria" (which can, depending on context, include Palestine refugees from Syria and Lebanese Returnees as well as registered and unregistered Syrian nationals),

2. "persons registered as refugees by UNHCR", and

3. "de facto refugees". (both 2. and 3. referring exclusively to Syrian nationals who are registered with UNHCR or seeking registration

A. Introduction

After four years of generous welcome to families displaced by the Syrian crisis, Lebanon’s Government and people now face a critical test of stability and resilience.

The number of people living in Lebanon has increased by 30 per cent compared to 2011 - including 1.2 million Syrians registered in Lebanon as refugees by UNHCR, 42,000 Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) joining 270,000 Palestine Refugees in Lebanon (PRL), at least 20,000 Lebanese Returnees from Syria and many displaced Syrians present but unregistered1. The number of poor living in Lebanon has also risen by nearly two thirds since 2011, to 2.1 million, largely accounted for by the arrival of poor de facto refugees from Syria, and Lebanese unemployment has doubled. Nearly half of those most affected by the crisis - 1.2 million - are children and adolescents.

For many de facto refugees from Syria and the poorest local communities, daily life is increasingly dominated by poverty and debt, fewer cooked meals, rising waste and pollution, over-stretched services, a struggle for legal documentation, and increased competition for work - in a country where the private sector traditionally delivers many public services.

Security concerns are also growing. Extremist armed groups crossing into Lebanon from Syria clashed with Lebanese Armed Forces in 2014, displacing communities. A few thousand persons displaced from Syria started to experience disputes over land and rent-related housing tenure. Lebanese leaders have been increasingly active to ease tensions despite the heavy burden on public institutions and the vulnerable communities relying on them.

The Government of Lebanon’s position is that repatriation of de facto refugees from Syria is the preferred durable solution for this crisis, while abiding by the principle of non-refoulement and recognizing that conditions for safe return could precede a political solution for the conflict in Syria.
Based on this premise, and given the combined economic, demographic and security challenges facing Lebanon as a result of the crisis in Syria, the Government has adopted a policy paper in October setting three priorities to manage the displacement crisis: (i) reducing the number of individuals registered in Lebanon by UNHCR as refugees from Syria; (ii) addressing the rising security concerns in the country; and (iii) sharing the economic burden through a more structured approach benefiting Lebanese institutions, communities and infrastructure. It also encouraged third countries to offer more resettlements and humanitarian admission opportunities for de facto refugees from Syria. The paper further states the Government’s readiness to work with the international community in order to achieve these solutions.

The Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) responds to these complex risks and challenges by integrating a targeted humanitarian response into a broader plan to support Lebanon’s stabilization.
Building on investments to date, the LCRP seeks to promote the Government’s oversight of the crisis response. It will also increase focus on aid coordination in Lebanon, scale up cost-efficiencies, expand public-private partnerships and develop stronger targeting mechanisms.

The LCRP incorporates stabilization priorities articulated in the Government of Lebanon’s 2013 Stabilization Roadmap. The LCRP was developed with Lebanese Ministries, UN agencies and national and international NGOs. The Government of Lebanon (Minister of Social Affairs (MoSA)) and the UN (Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator) will oversee LCRP strategies and implementation with support from the RCO and OCHA and guidance from UNDP on stabilization and UNHCR on displacement aspects and in partnership with other key Government institutions and humanitarian and stabilization partners.

The LCRP proposes US$ 2.14 billion to respond to priority humanitarian and stabilization needs, of which US$ 210 million has already been secured through multi-year donor commitments. The Plan provides direct humanitarian assistance to 2.2 million highly vulnerable Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians and invests in services, economies and institutions reaching 2.9 million people in the poorest locations.