Joint UNHCR-UK mission pledges support to Lebanon's response to Syrian crisis

BEIRUT, Lebanon – The United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi today called for urgent international support to Lebanon and Syrian refugees in a joint visit to the Bekaa Valley, east Lebanon.

“The humanitarian situation for Syrian refugees in Lebanon remains very serious,” said Mr. Grandi. “They are stretched to breaking point and so are the Lebanese communities that have unconditionally welcomed and hosted them. The international community needs to redouble its support to Lebanon during this critical time and share responsibility for refugees and host communities.”

Mr. Grandi made those comments during a stop at an informal settlement in Taalabaya, central Bekaa, where the delegation met with refugee families who spoke about their worries and concerns. The settlement – which hosts nearly 60 families – is one of 1,500 informal settlements in the area where UNHCR provides winter assistance including shelter kits and cash.

The delegation also discussed the needs of the Lebanese education system with Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh during a visit to Taalabaya Intermediate Public School, where 600 Syrian students are enrolled in the morning and afternoon shifts.

“The UK has delivered on the promises we made last year, reaching hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and refugees – now it is essential that the international community and host governments alike step up with the funding and reforms needed to complete the ambitious agenda agreed in London,” said Ms. Patel.

“Lebanon faces great adversity, but it is also a country of great generosity, great resilience and great symbolism. I think there is a real opportunity for Lebanon to make the most of its partnership with the international community, both for its own people and for the many refugees it is hosting,” she added.

Lebanon has been at the forefront of one of the worst humanitarian crises worldwide. The country’s population has grown by 28 per cent in less than five years with a ratio of one refugee to every four Lebanese. The Government of Lebanon and its national and international partners last month appealed for US$2.8 billion to provide critical humanitarian assistance and protection as well as invest in Lebanon’s public infrastructure, services and local economy in 2017.

Some US$1.2 billion were received against the joint Lebanon appeal last year, which has helped UNHCR and partners provide much-needed humanitarian assistance and capacity-building and avoid a sharp deterioration in living conditions and the country’s infrastructure.

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