US$ 1.7 Billion Appeal to Assist Spiraling Number of Refugees from Syria and Affected People in Lebanon

11 Jun 2013

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The Government of Lebanon (GoL), the United Nations and its humanitarian partners issued a fifth revised appeal for Lebanon today for over US$ 1.7 billion, including US$ 450 million presented by the GoL for direct support to national institutions and essential public services. The “Regional Response Plan (RRP) for Syrian Refugees” engaging over 60 humanitarian organizations, led by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), extends requirements to cover the period January to December 2013. 

The numbers presented in this plan are staggering. By December 2013, the number of registered refugees in Lebanon is projected to reach one million individuals, a figure equivalent to 25 per cent of the total population of the smallest among Syria's neighbouring countries. This plan also includes the response to the humanitarian needs of an estimated 80,000 Palestine refugees from Syria, up to 49,000 returning Lebanese as well as 1.2 million Lebanese in hosting communities severely affected by the refugee influx. 

“The number of refugees fleeing the war in Syria is growing at an alarming rate," UNHCR Deputy Representative in Lebanon Jean-Paul Cavalieri said today. “So too are the needs of host communities. UN agencies, humanitarian actors and the government of Lebanon face huge challenges to keep pace with the burgeoning crisis. This appeal represents an alignment of the plans of all major actors with a view to effectively coordinating aid and reaching those most in need.” 

It is estimated that some 70 per cent of the projected population of refugees – both Syrian and Palestinian from Syria - will be in need of some form of shelter assistance by the end of the year. The majority of boys and girls arriving from Syria will have experienced or witnessed harrowing scenes of conflict. Refugee children are likely to suffer from psycho-social distress. Despite efforts to increase enrolment, only 20 per cent are currently estimated to be in school. 

Interagency assessments in 2012 showed that 85 per cent of Syrian refugees are food insecure and in need of continued support until the crisis ends. The World Food Programme (WFP) in Lebanon will assist up to 1.2 million Syrian refugees and Lebanese people affected by the crisis by December 2013 - four times the number the food agency is currently assisting – 92 percent of them through food vouchers. 
While donors have provided considerable support for humanitarian programmes in Lebanon, without up-scaled efforts to guarantee protection, shelter and access to essential services, refugees, as well as hosting communities, will be deeply affected. So much more needs to be done. Refugees –those registered and awaiting registration-, who now constitute over 10 per cent of the population in Lebanon, are hosted in over 1,400 locations across the country. This dramatic increase in the population of Lebanon has put a tremendous and increasing pressure on the ability of the Government, the Lebanese population, and the international community to respond to the crisis. 

UN Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Representative, Robert Watkins, highlighted that “the burden of the crisis has fallen more acutely on host communities in Lebanon than in any other country outside of Syria.” The Lebanon Host Community Support Programme, implemented by UNDP and the Ministry of Social Affairs and integrated into the response plan, is critical to helping maintain stability in the most vulnerable areas. The Programme aims to improve community security, support local economic recovery and social cohesion through community-based initiatives that bring together local authorities and civil society. 

Food, health, education, shelter water, waste management and community service actors have been at the front line of humanitarian efforts to date. 

During May this year, WFP provided food vouchers and food parcels to around 369,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Health agencies provided 36,000 consultations (22,500 patients) at the primary and secondary level. Life-threatening conditions as well as essential secondary and tertiary care, including major surgeries, were provided for 7,000 patients. Since 2012, some 60,000 individuals (approximately 12,000 households) have received shelter support. Agencies have also distributed some 87,000 hygiene and 35,000 baby kits and conducted hygiene promotion sessions with over 56,000 individuals since the beginning of 2013. Over 57,000 Palestine refugees from Syria have received health, education and other essential services through the UN Relief and Works Agency in Lebanon. 

Today, over half a million Syrian refugees are registered or awaiting registration with UNHCR in Lebanon. The planning figure set by humanitarian partners for June 2013 of 300,000 refugees has now been long surpassed. While these numbers convey the unfolding tragedy in Syria, they also give an indication of the burden placed on Lebanon and other host countries. The fifth response plan reflects scaled up integrated support to affected communities and regions necessary both to reach an increasingly dispersed refugee population and to ensure continued cohesion with host communities. 

To date, the plan is 26 per cent funded. With these funding levels, partners will not be able to ensure basic assistance and life-saving activities will be disrupted in key sectors including protection, shelter, education, health, water/hygiene and food security.