With a long history of sectarian conflict, Lebanon’s situation has becoming increasingly more volatile as the Syrian civil war continues. Not only have over a million refugees crossed the 360 kilometre-long Syrian-Lebanon border, but the conflict has also spilled over – from street fighting in Tripoli to bombings in Beruit.
While Lebanese officials attempt to maintain a principle of non-intervention in Syrian affairs to avoid a spillover of conflict, Lebanese NGOs have filled the gap, according to Professor Hala Naufal, author of a MPC study on Syrian refugees. Unlike Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, there are no refugee camps in Lebanon. Various factions in Lebanese government have refused to set up camps, worried about the signals it could send to the Syrian government. Instead, about half of the refugees live in rented housing, while the other half are in nomadic camps or hosted by families or local communities. Only in January 2013 did the Lebanese cabinet vote to start registering refugees.
Aid to refugees is essentially provided by civil society, especially by people who have opened up their homes, and by the municipalities of the villages and towns. Refugees have set up in old houses and abandoned buildings.
Hala Naufal, Professor at Lebanese University, December 2012
Over 1.1 million Syrian refugees are in Syria, according to the United Nations. Only a very small proportion live in camps, with the vast majority dispersed in communities throughout the country.
Syrian refugees now make up over a quarter of Lebanon’s population.
“A Milestone Quickly Passed” – June 2014
- Cameron Thibos
In April 2013 the UN called the one-millionth refugee arrival in Lebanon a “devastating milestone. In this study, Cameron Thibos of the MPC examines the enormous toll Syrian refugees are taking on Lebanon. Download “A Milestone Quickly Passed” (1.64 MB)
Lebanon country study – December 2012
- Hala Naufal
Professor Hala Naufal’s MPC study describes in detail the role played by civil society and aid agencies in Lebanon as well as local communities that have opened their door to refugees (see interviews below). Download the full Lebanon country study (492 KB)
Civil Society: Interview with Dr Kamel Mohanna, President of Amel Association
Civil Society: Interview with Georges Khoury, President Caritas Lebanon
“The question is if Lebanon can continue to support enclaves of misery and suffering…Lebanon, it is clear, no longer has the means.” The Director of the Caritas in Lebanon discusses Lebanon’s response. Interview from December 2012. Continuing reading