Operation: Opération: Lebanon



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Key Figures

2018 year-end results
840,000 people of concern received multi-purpose cash assistance, including seasonal assistance for winter, with a direct cash transfer value of over $141 million
105,400 refugees and Lebanese nationals benefitted from services in 23 community development centres
86,000 refugees and 75,000 Lebanese nationals benefitted from 17 projects to expand access to improved water supplies, to ensure safe solid waste disposal, and to mitigate flood risks
78,700 lifesaving and obstetric hospital referrals were supported, 60% of which were deliveries
9,810 refugees were resettled and 8,390 cases were submitted for resettlement
3,800 refugees received counselling, information on humanitarian assistance, services and protection information from UNHCR every hour through various communication channels
2019 planning figures
86,160 vulnerable refugee families will be provided with monthly multi-purpose cash assistance to help meet their basic needs
101,000 lifesaving obstetric and emergency hospitalizations will be supported
42,800 people of concern will receive legal assistance 
24,370 refugees with specific needs will be supported with case management services and assistance

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Decrease in
2018 969,641
2017 1,018,416
2016 1,031,303


[["Refugees",949666],["Asylum-seekers",16423],["Others of concern",3552]]
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2018 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[455.24766677,481.695910133,463.421994797,464.493683128,463.03522448,562.76097942],"expenditure":[304.00538602,318.76293313,350.84684491,325.81702767,313.71449307,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[454.60838526,480.453635063,462.446930787,463.887386018,462.4443182,562.00793411],"p2":[0.63928151,1.24227507,0.97506401,0.60629711,0.59090628,0.75304531],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[303.69096792,318.55729708,350.04193388,325.26760783,313.24121253,null],"p2":[0.3144181,0.20563605,0.80491103,0.54941984,0.47328054,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Operational context

Elections in May and the government formation that lasted into January 2019 brought many of the challenges Lebanon is facing to the fore. While the protracted presence of an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees was largely absent during the campaigning, it resurfaced after the Brussels II Conference. UNHCR reaffirmed its respect for Lebanon’s non-integration policy and gave more visibility to the work the Agency has been undertaking since 2017 to identify the factors that will make refugees feel confident to return and contribute towards the removal of key obstacles to large-scale voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable returns.
During 2018, around 5,600 refugees returned on their own from Lebanon to the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria), while the General Security began facilitating group returns, with approximately 11,100 Syrians returning during the year. In parallel, several political actors launched initiatives to encourage refugee returns to Syria. Against this context, UNHCR promoted respect for international standards and advised stakeholders on the various operational considerations necessary to ensure that returns are safe and dignified, and based on individual free and informed decisions.
The protection environment in 2018 was marked by growing frustrations and a decline in intercommunity interaction – underpinned by increasing anti-refugee discourse. Local authorities imposed measures such as curfews, raids and evictions in reaction to incidents involving Syrians. In such an environment, advocating the secure and dignified temporary stay of refugees – an operational priority – was particularly challenging.
Refugees of other nationalities faced increasing food insecurity and difficulties obtaining legal residency, putting them at risk of refoulement if arrested. With limited prospects of resettlement, UNHCR intervened on several occasions to prevent deportation.
Despite the challenging environment, political leaders reaffirmed their commitment to international standards, including non-refoulement. It is critical that international partners sustain robust support for the refugee response, and invests in infrastructure and job creation to preserve the ability of local communities to continue hosting refugees until larger numbers feel able to return in safety and dignity. It is also critical that third countries increase resettlement and other pathways.

Population trends

At the end of 2018, some 948,800 Syrians were registered with UNHCR – a decrease of 48,700 people from the end of 2017. According to Government estimates, Lebanon currently hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees. UNHCR continued its advocacy with the Government regarding the importance of resuming registration for Syrian nationals, which was suspended in May 2015.
At the end of 2018, over 18,200 refugees and asylum-seekers from countries other than Syria were registered with UNHCR. Iraqis account for more than three-quarters of this total, followed by Sudanese (10.5%) and Ethiopian nationals (3.6%).

Key achievements

  • The capacity of 14 General Security offices to receive and process applications for legal residency in a faster and more secure manner increased significantly as a result of support provided by UNHCR.
  • Policy changes were adopted to facilitate late birth registration for children born in Lebanon to Syrian refugee parents and who have turned 1 year old. The level of full birth registration increased from 17% to 21%.
  • The records of close to 542,500 people were updated in 2018, allowing for greater refugee legal protection and improving access to basic assistance and services.
  • UNHCR continued to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable refugees through cash-based interventions. The multi-purpose cash assistance programme targeted 34,500 families and winter assistance reached close to 170,000 families. Outcome monitoring shows that families assisted through these programmes consistently rely less on negative coping strategies and debt to pay for their rent, medical expenses and other daily needs, and have better quality diets.

Unmet needs

Due to various reasons including operational challenges as well as resource limitations, some programmes/activities were partially or fully not implemented.
  • Protection interventions targeted the most vulnerable people of concern, however critical gaps remained in accessing safe shelters and mobile services for person with specific needs, including SGBV survivors. Also, over 700 refugees assessed to be in need of protection cash assistance to help them cope with, and transition out of, a critical protection incident could not receive this due to lack of funding.
  • Only 19% of all Syrian refugee families, or 40% of the severely vulnerable Syrian families, received monthly multi-purpose cash assistance from UNHCR or a partner agency to help cover their basic survival needs. This left the majority of severely vulnerable families in a precarious socio-economic situation and at heightened risk of exploitation. Many resorted to coping strategies such as moving from private accommodation to informal settlements, and/or borrowing money to buy food, cover health expenses and pay rent; poverty and difficulties to cover basic expenses was also the most commonly cited reason for returning to Syria. Among refugees of other nationalities, 50% of refugees are below the poverty line, and have limited access to health care and education and vulnerable refugees did not have access to food assistance.

Working environment

More than six years into the conflict inside Syrian Arab Republic (Syria), Lebanon generously hosts more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees. The reception fatigue of hosting communities is rising. Localized tensions are observed over perceived competition for jobs, services and resources, and social stability and cohesion is being put to test.
Preserving the well-being and dignity of the refugees is a challenge, as 71 per cent of the Syrian refugees and 68 per cent of refugees of other nationalities live below the national poverty line. With limited livelihood opportunities and increasing debts to landlords and shop owners, refugees remain vulnerable and reliant on humanitarian assistance.
The breakthrough on legal residency achieved in 2017, with the waiver of renewal fees for certain categories of Syrians will reduce some of the protection risks and increase refugees’ freedom of movement. UNHCR will continue supporting the authorities’ implementation of the renewal exercise, and promote an expansion of the waiver to reach refugees currently not covered. The restrictions on admission to territory, and suspension of UNHCR registration, introduced in October 2014, remain in force. This severely limits UNHCR’s ability to comprehensively capture the protection needs of all refugees and plan and facilitate durable solutions outside of Lebanon.
Resettlement remains a key durable solution for refugees in Lebanon. Of major concern is therefore the anticipated decrease in resettlement quotas. Meanwhile, most of the Syrian refugees indicate voluntary return as their preferred solution, and that security and safety in Syria is the key factor influencing future decisions regarding return. 
The root causes of statelessness in Lebanon remain and include the lack of registration of individuals in the 1932 national census, gaps in the nationality law, and a complex civil registration system.
Under the overall leadership of the Government of Lebanon and the UN Resident Coordinator, UNHCR coordinates the humanitarian response to refugees in Lebanon and maintains its leadership on the refugee component of the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) 2017-2020, a common framework for the Government and humanitarian and development actors who work towards shared humanitarian and stabilization objectives. UNHCR continues to play a leadership role in inter-agency and inter-sector working groups to ensure the centrality of refugee issues in planning and implementation.

Key priorities

In 2018, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Preserving the asylum space for the Syrian refugees for as long as they need protection, and preventing refoulement.
  • Ensuring adequate protection, and finding durable solutions, for refugees of nationalities other than Syrian (mainly Iraqis).
  • Preserving the well-being and dignity of refugees including through cash assistance to meet their basic needs and supporting access to health care, education and adequate shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene services.
  • Provision of legal assistance to stateless people.
Latest contributions
  • 17-JUL-2019
  • 16-JUL-2019
  • 11-JUL-2019
  • 10-JUL-2019
  • 08-JUL-2019
    European Union
  • Kuwait
  • 05-JUL-2019
  • 04-JUL-2019

    private donors

  • European Union
  • Japan
  • 03-JUL-2019
  • 02-JUL-2019
  • 30-JUN-2019

    private donors

  • Argentina
  • Sweden

    private donors

  • Spain
  • Oman

    private donors

  • United Arab Emirates

    private donors

  • Kuwait

    private donors

  • Saudi Arabia

    private donors