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|2020 year-end results|
|238,000||refugee families received cash assistance including seasonal winter assistance and multipurpose cash for basic needs|
|85,000||people per month were reached with information (79% online) on topics such as COVID-19, civil documentation, legal residency and child rights|
|60,000||life-saving and obstetric hospital referrals were supported, 60% of which were deliveries|
|35,000||refugees were assisted with civil status registration or documentation|
|2021 planning figures|
|100,800||of the most economically vulnerable Syrian refugee families and 3,840 refugee and asylum-seeker families of other nationalities will receive monthly multi-purpose cash assistance to cover basic needs|
|100,000||Syrian refugees and 900 refugees and asylum-seekers of other nationalities will have access to subsidized secondary and tertiary medical care|
|48,350||Syrian refugees and 3,000 refugees and asylum-seekers of other nationalities will receive counselling and legal aid on legal residency procedures and other protection issues|
|8,000||Syrian refugees and 1,250 refugees of other nationalities will be submitted for resettlement|
People of Concern
Operational contextThe year 2020 was particularly difficult for the Lebanese population, refugees and migrants. The country faced a deep economic and financial crisis, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Beirut port explosion on 4 August 2020.
The 2020 Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees (VaSyR) found that 89% of Syrian refugee families in Lebanon lived below the extreme poverty line, up from 55% in mid-2019.
Growing needs led many refugees to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as reducing food intake, school drop-out and child labour, indebtedness, and desperate onward movement by sea to Cyprus. Many refugees were also evicted from their homes, as they could no longer pay rent.
UNHCR responded to the challenges facing refugees and Lebanese communities within the framework of the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan, the Lebanon COVID-19 Emergency Appeal, and the flash appeal issued following the port explosion. UNHCR provided support to the national COVID-19 response plan, including by expanding hospital capacity to prevent competition for care.
As part of the response to the port explosion, UNHCR provided emergency shelter kits and weatherproofing, and launched a cash for minor repairs programme to assist affected Lebanese and refugee families.
Population trendsAt the end of 2020, some 865,531 Syrian refugees were registered with UNHCR in Lebanon, a decrease of 49,117 (5.4%) since the end of 2019.
Registered refugees and asylum-seekers from countries other than Syria numbered 15,896 individuals, a decrease of 2,075 (11.5%) compared to the end of 2019.
- Refugees were included in the national COVID-19 response plan. UNHCR supported the plan by covering the cost of PCR testing as well as expanding six hospitals with 57 intensive care unit beds and 197 regular beds.
- As extreme poverty rose to 89% of Syrian refugee families, UNHCR expanded its multipurpose cash assistance programme to support a monthly average of 43,500 families cover basic needs including rent, food and medical expenses.
- UNHCR conducted 2,455 best interests assessments for children identified at risk of abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation.
- 488 refugee community health volunteers were mobilized to raise awareness on COVID-19 prevention.
- The Lebanon Crisis Response Plan was extended for another year until 2021, in recognition of the continued need for an integrated humanitarian-stabilisation plan that seeks to provide protection and immediate assistance to those in most need while strengthening and supporting the capacity of national and local systems to deliver basic services to the Lebanese and refugee populations.
- Compared to the projected resettlement needs of approximately 111,400 individuals, only 8,172 refugees were submitted based on available quotas and 4,645 departed to resettlement countries in 2020, as COVID-linked travel restrictions reduced quotas and disrupted travel plans.
- Around 300,000 school-aged Syrian refugee children between the ages of 3 and 18 remained out of any type of learning. UNHCR’s and other agencies’ projects for out-of-school children were insufficient to cover the needs. In addition, around 30,000 children in non-formal education had their learning disrupted by COVID-19, and very few were able to follow remote learning.
Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)The Lebanon operation was able to immediately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to the Beirut port explosion thanks to the flexible funding received. This enabled UNHCR to be one of the most responsive, efficient and relevant actors in the response plans.
Working environmentLebanon hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees per capita, with a Government estimate of 1.5 million Syrian refugees. It also hosts an additional 18,500 refugees from Ethiopia, Iraq, Sudan and other countries, as well as more than 200,000 Palestinian refugees under UNRWA’s mandate. The presence of such a large refugee population, in a small country struggling to maintain its own delicate demographic balance and regain its pre-crisis economic growth, is increasingly affecting the protection space and influencing calls for, and measures geared towards, a speedier return of the refugees to Syria. There is pressure on infrastructure, services and the environment, as well as competition for jobs. This is testing the patience and hospitality of host communities, in which refugees live dispersed, and negatively affecting inter-community relations and social stability.
The Lebanon Crisis Response Plan 2017-2020 (LCRP) seeks to provide a framework for an integrated humanitarian-development response in which the needs of the refugees are – to the extent possible, based on national laws and policies – met by strengthening the capacity of national institutions and organizations to deliver services. The aim is to mitigate the impact of the refugees’ presence by supporting host communities and vulnerable Lebanese. At the same time, a robust, complementary humanitarian safety net of services and assistance needs to be maintained in view of the Government’s policy against integration and the consequent limitations on refugees’ ability to work and be fully included in national programmes. There are also limitations on humanitarians’ ability to support sustainable interventions in, for example, the shelter sector. UNHCR coordinates the LCRP alongside the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNDP, maintaining leadership on the refugee component.
In this environment, refugees are facing increasing protection risks, with a lack of legal residency leading to the risk of arrest, deportation and eviction, sexual and gender-based violence and child abuse on the rise. Needs in basic assistance, as well as health, shelter and WASH, are also increasing. Refugees’ humanitarian needs and vulnerabilities will remain high due to cumulative factors in this protracted situation, where they are still largely dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs and stay resilient against exploitation and other risks.
Key prioritiesIn 2020, UNHCR will focus on:
- Ensuring access to protection, temporary legal stay and birth and civil status documentation for refugees, and their protection from refoulement.
- Preserving the dignity and well-being of refugees in Lebanon, with priority given to refugees with specific needs and vulnerabilities.
- Preserving the hospitality of Lebanese host communities and overall social stability.
- Facilitating refugees’ attainment of durable solutions in the form of resettlement or complementary pathways to third countries, or their voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity.