UNHCR's Grandi: We must increase lifesaving support to vulnerable Lebanese and refugees and find solutions for Syrian refugees

Umm Jumaa, a Syrian refugee mother, shows UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi the single room where her family of nine lives in a collective shelter in Beirut, Lebanon.  © ©UNHCR/Nour Tarabay

BEIRUT – At the conclusion of a three-day visit to Lebanon, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, appealed to the international community to sustain its crucial support to vulnerable Lebanese and refugees in Lebanon, as the country faces its worst economic crisis in modern history.

Grandi also pledged to continue working towards long-term solutions for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the region.

“Lebanon is going through one of its hardest moments, while continuing to host one of the largest refugee populations per capita in the world,” Grandi said. “Both Lebanese and refugees are suffering immensely due to multiple crises. More people are being pushed deeper into poverty every day.”

At a collective shelter in Beirut, Grandi met Umm Jumaa, a Syrian refugee mother who told him how her living conditions have badly deteriorated since the High Commissioner met her last in 2016. The family of nine now live in one room with no windows, no private toilet, and no running water. “It’s damp and water leaks from everywhere. I wake up daily to the nightmare of how to keep this shelter dry during rainy days and how to feed my children.”

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, continues to support refugees and hosting communities, providing direct assistance to families and infrastructure support. UNHCR – through generous support from donor countries - helps Lebanese municipalities and communities with projects ranging from the installation of solar panels to secure access to electricity and clean water, and the provision of generators and street lighting. Recently, this support expanded to Lebanon’s fight against the newest challenge, cholera. By working closely with the Government, UN agencies and NGOs, UNHCR is helping ensure access to the cholera vaccine for all those in high-risk areas.

While in Lebanon, Grandi met caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, Director General of General Security Major-General Abbas Ibrahim, other Lebanese ministers and donors to discuss how to better support vulnerable Lebanese and refugees and find solutions.

“The government reiterated its urgent appeal for an end to the refugee crisis in Lebanon. I reaffirmed UNHCR’s commitment to continue working with all stakeholders to achieve this, despite the complex and challenging situation,” Grandi said. “We appreciate Lebanon’s continuing commitment to the safe and voluntary return of refugees.”

UNHCR continues to work with key actors to find long-term solutions for Syrian refugees, including resettlement of refugees to third countries and the voluntary, safe and dignified return of refugees to Syria.

In this regard, UNHCR and partners are working with all those concerned, including the Syrian government, host countries and other stakeholders to address the concerns refugees cite as obstacles to their return in large numbers, such as safety and security, livelihoods and housing.

“While we work on that, I want to strongly appeal to the international community during these difficult global economic times,” Grandi said. “Now, more than ever, we must not decrease the support that is provided to Lebanon, both to support Lebanese in need and the hundreds of thousands of refugees that they have generously hosted for so many years. We must not relent. We must not let go, we must stand with Lebanon.”

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