Syrian Refugee Crisis - Lebanon

The Syria conflict remains the biggest humanitarian, peace and security crisis facing the world today. The United Nations estimates 13.1 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance, including 6.6 million who are internally displaced and 1.5 million living in hard-to-reach areas. A further 5.6 million people have fled the violence in Syria to neighbouring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. In Lebanon, Syrian refugees make up one-quarter of the population – the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world. Over 91 percent of refugees in the region are residing in host communities, which is placing a strain on local resources, infrastructure and services. An estimated 465,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting and over one million have been injured.

In 2016, the Australian Government announced a $220 million, three-year humanitarian package to respond to the Syria crisis. This includes humanitarian assistance for Syria and its neighbours, as well as longer-term resilience support for Jordan and Lebanon focused on improving education and livelihoods opportunities for refugees and host communities. The humanitarian funding is being delivered through United Nations agencies, international humanitarian organisations and Australian NGOs, through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP), reaching people in need across the region.

AHP partners are delivering humanitarian assistance to refugee communities in Jordan and Lebanon.

Lebanon hosts the highest per capita refugee concentration in the world in addition to a substantial migrant worker population. More than 1.5 million Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, however less than one million are registered as refugees with UNHCR. More than half of those registered are children under the age of 18, and together, women and children account for nearly 75 percent of the refugee population.

AHP partners Caritas Australia and Plan International Australia are working in Lebanon to provide important protection services to these vulnerable populations.

Caritas Australia, through its in-country partner CRS, is working through two established shelters in the Mt Lebanon governorate to support Syrian refugees with urgent protection services, life skills and livelihood training, as well as educational support for children. The project is designed to support up to 3000 violence-affected women and children as they pass through the shelter system, however drastically reduced solutions for resettlement in Lebanon has meant families are staying much longer in the shelters, preventing the intake of new residents. This has resulted in more concentrated services and support to long-term shelter residents and in the first year 257 women and children were supported by the project.

Conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, including fear of rape, fuelled displacement from Syria and many vulnerable refugees face continuing gender-based violence in Lebanon. Child mothers, early-married girls, unaccompanied girls and adolescents, women and girls with disabilities and female single heads of households are the most at risk. Temporary shelters are critical during different phases of a survivor’s transition process as they start preparing for repatriation or an independent life.

Shelter residents receive basic needs support including meals, hygiene items and medical support. Protection packages include health and psychological consultations while life-skills training includes positive parenting, anger management, self-care, and interpersonal skills. Livelihoods support includes English classes, computer classes, and business literacy for improved household management. Children in the shelters are provided with homework support and remedial educational support classes.

Plan International Australia is working with partner International Medical Corps to prevent gender-based violence and improve response services for refugee and host communities in Lebanon. The project provides individual case management consultation for to up to 2000 gender-based violence survivors and raise awareness of gender-based violence to another 8000 vulnerable women, girls, men, and boys.

The project targets men and boys, women and girls within host and refugee communities at high risk of violence by providing an integrated package of protection services that includes gender-based violence case management, psychosocial support, and community-based activities and referrals. Social workers are integrated into community medical centres and women’s community centres to build trust with vulnerable women and girls, while outreach volunteers lead awareness campaigns in refugee and host communities. The project also works with men and boys to assist transition from negative gender views and violent behaviour into healthy and respectful relations. The resulting community support networks help refugee and host communities to work together on protection concerns.

For many Syrian refugee children their safe place is their school classroom. Plan International provide anti-gender violence and protection activities through schools projects in Lebanon © Plan International Australia

For many Syrian refugee children their safe place is their school classroom. Plan International provide anti-gender violence and protection activities through schools projects in Lebanon © Plan International Australia

Lebanon, 2016Clare Price