The Syria refugee crisis is pushing Lebanon to take concerning steps, more than 20 humanitarian agencies warned today. Since 3 May 2014 there have been increasing reports of refugees experiencing difficulties in maintaining residence in Lebanon, and entry for Palestinian refugees from Syria seeking safety and protection in Lebanon has all but ceased.
On World Refugee Day, the Lebanon Humanitarian INGO Forum (LHIF) said that Lebanon needs greater support from international donors to provide for refugees and host communities before the situation becomes untenable. LHIF also urged all countries neighboring Syria to ensure that their borders are open to all civilians fleeing the conflict, regardless of national status.
Lebanon now hosts more refugees per capita than any other country in the world –one out of every five people living in the country is a refugee. But with over 1 million refugees already in the country and thousands more arriving every month, only a quarter of the funds needed to provide essential services for refugees and host communities in Lebanon in 2014 have so far been received.
“The Lebanese people and government have done far more than any other country to provide a safe haven for the millions fleeing conflict in Syria. This life saving action has to continue. By denying entry to civilians, vulnerable populations may be stuck inside Syria or forced to cross borders at unofficial points, through insecure areas affected by cross-border shelling and mines” said Niamh Murnaghan, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Lebanon.
A lack of clarity for refugees over their status is leading to increased fear and inhibiting their ability to access services. Many refugees who are living unofficially in Lebanon are already unable to move freely, too afraid to access legal protection or aid, and are at risk of exploitation.
Increased support for Lebanon from the international community is critical. “For many refugees, crossing a border is the only means of survival. Syria’s neighbors have an obligation to keep their borders open to refugees, but they need more help. We urgently need to see an increase in solutions offered by other states to ensure effective refugee protection including funding, resettlement and humanitarian admissions” said Médecins du Monde’s General Coordinator for Lebanon, Baptiste Hanquart.
The Lebanon Humanitarian INGO Forum (LHIF) is a group of 23 international humanitarian non-governmental organizations who are working to address the humanitarian needs of refugees and vulnerable Lebanese communities throughout Lebanon.