The are already more than a million refugees from Syria in Lebanon, according to the UNHCR. Which means that almost one of four residents in the country are now refugees.
The UNHCR says this is a “bleak milestone exacerbated by rapidly depleting resources and a host community stretched to breaking point.”
According to its data, “Lebanon has become the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide, struggling to keep pace with a crisis that shows no signs of slowing.”
“The influx of a million refugees would be massive in any country. For Lebanon, a small nation beset by internal difficulties, the impact is staggering,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “The Lebanese people have shown striking generosity, but are struggling to cope. Lebanon hosts the highest concentration of refugees in recent history. We cannot let it shoulder this burden alone.”
Always according to the UNHCR statement, the influx of refugees is accelerating. “In April 2012, there were 18,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon; by April 2013, there were 356,000, and now, in April this year, 1 million. Every day, UNHCR staff in Lebanon register 2,500 new refugees.”
There are towns and villages now having more refugees than Lebanese. “Across the country, critical infrastructure is stretched to its limits, affecting refugees and Lebanese alike. Sanitation and waste management have been severely weakened, clinics and hospitals are overstretched, and water supplies depleted. Wages are falling due to increased labour supply. There is growing recognition that Lebanon needs long-term development support to weather the crisis.”
“International support to government institutions and local communities is at a level that, although slowly increasing, is totally out of proportion with what is needed,” Guterres said. “Support to Lebanon is not only a moral imperative, but it is also badly needed to stop the further erosion of peace and security in this fragile society, and indeed the whole region.”
And while the scale of the humanitarian emergency expands, and the serious consequences to Lebanon mount, the humanitarian appeal for Lebanon is only 13 per cent funded, the UNHCR says.