Lebanon remains the country hosting the largest number of refugees per capita, with some 865,500 registered Syrian refugees as of end December 2020 and 15,800 refugees of Ethiopian, Iraqi, Sudanese and other origins. The number of registered Syrian refugees has been gradually reducing since the Lebanese Government instructed UNHCR to suspend new registration at the beginning of 2015.
The conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic has had a heavy economic and social toll on Lebanon. In addition, Lebanon has faced a deep economic and financial crisis since late 2019, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating explosions in the Beirut port on 4 August 2020. The protracted nature of the refugee situation with limited self-reliance possibilities, coupled with the impact of these recent crises, have led to an exponential rise in extreme poverty among refugees. According to the preliminary findings of the 2020 Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees (VASyR), 88% of the Syrian refugee families are now living below the extreme poverty line, up from 55% in 2019. The situation is creating hunger, increased debt and mental and physical health problems, as well as increasing risks of evictions, exploitation, child labour and gender-based violence.
At the same time, the percentage of refugees holding valid legal residency has further decreased, as the number of refugees able to pay for residency renewal has reduced and fewer fall within the criteria of the 2017 fee waiver. A lack of legal residency exposes refugees to the risk of arrest and detention. It also hampers their access to basic services like education, health care and social services, as well as to obtaining civil status documents such as marriage and birth registration. Non-Syrian refugees without legal residency are particularly vulnerable and at high risk of deportation to their country of origin.