Beirut – UNHCR’s Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Kelly T. Clements, today expressed her solidarity with Lebanese host communities and the more than one million Syrian refugees in the country, ahead of the onset of winter. Ms. Clements is on a three-day visit to Lebanon to assess the plight of […]
Beirut – UNHCR’s Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Kelly T. Clements, today expressed her solidarity with Lebanese host communities and the more than one million Syrian refugees in the country, ahead of the onset of winter.
Ms. Clements is on a three-day visit to Lebanon to assess the plight of Syrian refugees who have fled the ongoing violence in their country, and to take stock of humanitarian programmes targeting refugees and affected host communities.
“There are acute vulnerabilities in the refugee population in Lebanon, and as winter approaches, it’s important that an action plan to alleviate hardship is in place “, Ms. Clements said, during a stop today at a collective shelter hosting refugee families in Koura, north Lebanon.
The focus of UNHCR this year is on the provision of winter assistance to help refugees and Lebanese families survive the cold season. For them, meeting winter needs including fuel, warm clothes and nutritious meals is often prohibitive. According to preliminary findings from a 2016 survey by lead UN agencies, over 70 percent of registered refugees continue to live under the poverty line of USD 3.84 a day, with 52 percent living in extreme poverty. The study found 34 per cent of refugee households to be moderately food insecure, compared to 23 per cent a year earlier. The study also found that 54 per cent of refugees are in need of continuous support to upgrade their shelters to meet minimum standards.
“It’s reassuring to know that every family in need will be receiving the assistance required to the cold months ahead,” Ms. Clements added.
For the region, UNHCR aims to provide winter assistance to 4.57 million vulnerable Syrian and Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, with an overall budget of USD 343 million. The plan is currently underfunded.
UNHCR is launching a regional digital campaign through its Private Sector Partnership Service (PSP), asking private donors to help improve the lives of refugees this winter (for details: donate.unhcr.org/winteraid).
In Lebanon, in addition to cash assistance, winter interventions by UNHCR and partners also aim to scale up shelter improvements, from graveling and enhancing drainage in informal settlements, to weatherproofing insecure dwellings such as the collective shelter that Clements visited in Koura.
“Before the building was rehabilitated, we had wooden windows that barely let in any light. In winter, rain leaked into our living room,” said Rakan, 47, one of the 135 refugees living in the Koura collective shelter. “Now our house is protected against wind, rain, and mosquitoes too.”
Over 55,000 refugee families in Lebanon living in inadequate shelters, such as tents, garages, unfinished buildings and animal stalls, will receive help to weatherproof their homes.
An equal number of refugee families will receive blankets, stoves and clothing. Public schools at high altitudes will also be supported with fuel to keep classrooms warm for Syrian and Lebanese students.
Ms. Clements met with representatives of the Lebanese Government on Monday and is scheduled to visit south Lebanon on Wednesday, where she will meet refugee women at the Kfar Sir Social Development Centre in Nabatiyeh and attend a homework support group – a recent initiative by UNHCR to help keep refugees in school. Ms. Clements will conclude her visit in the South with a stop at an informal settlement in Addousye.