UNHCR warns of Lebanon's "collapse" if no further aid for Syrian refugees

A Syrian family in the al-Jarrah refugee camp in Lebanon, March 7, 2014. (Photo: The Fdz)

Published Friday, March 28, 2014

An influx of almost 1 million refugees from Syria into neighboring Lebanon poses a serious threat to the already fragile country, but donor nations may not grasp the potential impact of further destabilization, a UN official said on Thursday.

"There is not a single country in the world today that is shouldering as much in proportion to its size as Lebanon," said Ninette Kelley, regional representative for Lebanon for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

"If this country is not bolstered, then the very real prospect of it collapsing and the conflict of Syria spreading full force to Lebanon becomes much more likely," she said during a visit to Washington.

Last month, top UN officials said that as Syria's grinding conflict enters its fourth bloody year, Syrians are set to replace Afghans as the world's largest refugee population.

While hundreds of thousands of Syrians have also sought refuge in Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere, the largest concentration of Syrian refugees, close to 1 million people, can now be found in Lebanon, increasing the population of the tiny country by about a quarter, the United Nations said.

Earlier this week, Lebanon's foreign minister said that the crisis was "threatening the existence of Lebanon." This month, the Lebanese parliament gave a newly formed cabinet a vote of confidence, ending almost a year of political deadlock.

A major challenge for the new government will be the mounting cost of the refugee crisis, which has strained public infrastructure as people fleeing violence in Syria seek housing, food, and health care at a time of economic slowdown in Lebanon.

The challenge of educating refugee children provides one stark example. Kelley said that 400,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon require schooling, now outnumbering Lebanon's own 300,000 children in public schools.

To help the country cope, Kelley said the United Nations is seeking to support informal education for refugee children who cannot attend overwhelmed Lebanese schools.

But such activities will require additional, sustained funding from donors who are facing their own fiscal pressure and competing needs from elsewhere. Kelley said the United Nations and other aid providers were struggling to secure such funding.

The United nations has estimated that $1.7 billion is needed for this year to help the United Nations, aid organizations, the Lebanese government and others to support refugees from Syria in Lebanon, and to mitigate the impact of the refugee crisis there.

So far, pledges have been made for 14 percent of that amount, the UN said.

"Not everyone appreciates the small size of Lebanon and that 25 percent of its population are now refugees, most of whom came in a single year," she said.

"I also don't think it's widely appreciated that, should Lebanon become destabilized, what that would mean in terms of how much more difficult that would be to form a solution inside Syria," she said.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

She is speaking for the US, which is not totally surprising given that she is a US citizen herself. Who else is worried about "Israeli stability" (as she was quoted elsewhere as saying during this same "visit"; Reuters is a determined spokesperson for Israel, covering the recent sentencing to death of 528 Egyptians for murder without mentioning that they'd all murdered the same police officer)? How can racism be stable or unstable? What she means by "collapsing" Lebanon is that the majority will take power. Right? Why doesn't she denounce minority rule (the Taef Accord) as the cause of Lebanon's instability and therefore of its suffering?
See, I told you she was speaking for the US, which is to say, for Israel. By backing the Lebanese minority's threat to make war on the majority if that minority loses its elite status she and the West try to sentence Lebanon to death and keep it locked in a death cell.

Huh?Why do you assume she Is American (and therefor concerned with Israel etc,etc)If I remember correctly, she Is actually a Canadian.Not a big Issue, but It Is to Canadians. Being a US citizen doesn't automatically deem one an American patriot. (see As'ad AbuKhalil), What she Is saying Is a very accurate prediction, regardless of what you think.Your criticism should be aimed at the perpetrators of this tragedy and not those who are trying to do their best under Impossible circumstances.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><img><h1><h2><h3><h4><h5><h6><blockquote><span><aside>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

^ Back to Top