A million Syrians registered as refugees in Lebanon: “This number must be a wake-up call”

2 April 2014 - “This staggering number is far from being reflected in the available funding and levels of support. Every day which passes, without more funding, refugees are falling deeper into poverty and despair,” says Bernard Borkhosh, Country Director of CARE Lebanon.

Find out more about our ongoing response in the region

So far, the UN appeal for Lebanon, with a required amount of USD 1.7 billion, has only been funded 14%. The Lebanese government estimates that the actual number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon might have already reached a staggering 1.3 million.

“A lot of Syrians CARE works with are not registered, because they are afraid that their names might end up on a list which will cause them difficulties upon their return to Syria. Others cannot afford to cover the transport costs to travel to the registration offices,” says Borkhosh.

Unlike Jordan or Turkey, Lebanon has not established official refugee camps. “Behind this staggering number are people for whom this war remains a bitter, daily struggle to survive. Families live in unfinished houses, work sites or tents, scattered in as many as 1,600 different locations across the country. They have no money to buy food, to pay for medication and, they cannot cover the costs to send their children to school,“ says Borkhosh.

“Most of the refugees came to Lebanon with nothing but the clothes they were wearing when they had to leave their country and their previous lives behind. They have lost their homes, their work and family members. After months and sometimes years of being a refugee, they have no more resources.”

The burden on Lebanon, a tiny country of around 4.5 million, is unparalleled. Lebanon hosts the largest Syrian refugee population in the world, with numbers expected to dramatically increase as long as the conflict across the border persists.

The mass influx of refugees into Lebanon has massive impacts on the income and expenditures of both refugees and their host communities. Schools are overcrowded, hospitals full with wounded refugees, water, work and accommodations have become even scarcer. 

“The capacities are more than overstretched. This is nothing one country can manage by itself. CARE and other organisations are ready to do more to share the burden with Lebanese host communities, but we need more funding,” says Borkhosh.

CARE works with host communities and municipalities to support them in strengthening water supply and sewage systems, so both Syrian refugees and Lebanese host families’ lives will be improved. 

CARE’s Syria Response in Lebanon
CARE’s provides life-saving services to Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon. CARE Lebanon repairs water and sanitation infrastructure at household level, distributes hygiene and baby kits as well as latrine cleaning kits, provides hygiene promotion sessions, works with municipalities to improve water supply and sanitation infrastructure for refugees as well as for host communities. 

During the winter months, CARE helped families in Lebanon to prepare for and cope with the cold winter, distributing cash to buy heaters and fuel, blankets and floor mats. Syrian volunteers, who are refugees themselves, are an integral part of CARE’s Syria Response. Alongside Lebanese volunteers, they assist in organising and preparing distributions of relief items. 

Media contact:

Laura Gilmour: News editor/ Press officer (Programme and Policy), +44 207 091 6063, gilmour@careinternational.org