Beirut, LEBANON (July 15, 2013) — Tensions in Lebanese communities are reaching a tipping point as refugees fleeing deadly violence in neighboring Syria continue to pour into the country, putting children further at risk, aid agency World Vision warns in a new study out Monday.
With predictions that a third of Lebanon’s population could be made up of refugees by the end of the year — and no end in sight for the crisis — the strain is leading to security concerns, increased resentment and a tinderbox-like atmosphere. There are concerns a secondary humanitarian crisis could erupt in Lebanon if nothing is done to ease the strain.
“Lebanese communities have shown incredible generosity and resilience, many taking refugees into their homes and providing food. But the sheer number of people pouring into such a small country means the strain is just too much," said Anita Delhaas-van Dijk, the national director for World Vision in Lebanon. "The cracks are starting to show with worsening security and rising tensions. Communities are facing unbearable pressure. As the Syria conflict deepens, these pressures are more acutely felt. The crisis threatens to destabilize the whole region.”
School classes have doubled in size with some shutting their doors to local children at lunchtime to make way for refugees. Healthcare is under growing strain with some clinics accepting 50 percent more patients in the past year.
Meanwhile, World Vision's study, "Under pressure: the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on host communities in Lebanon," found many Lebanese families face financial ruin as wages plummet and rent prices soar, with hard-pressed Syrian refugees working for less money and sharing single-family homes with multiple families to save on rent. This strain is particularly difficult for Lebanese and Syrian children who are getting lost in the midst of the crisis.
“I meet children and their families every day who have fled bombings and sniper fire in Syria with nothing," said Delhaas-van Dijk. "Some children are saying they're scared for their future."
The report, based on information gathered from refugees and the families hosting them in Lebanon, says aid should help alleviate tensions between communities and urges assistance to be directed towards host families and communities, as well as to refugees. It also finds that more focus needs to be given to ensuring children are protected and their needs are being met as the crisis deepens.
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- The number of Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon has now passed half a million, with many more who are not registered.
- World Vision has been working in Lebanon since 1975. In its response to the refugee crisis, World Vision has worked with Lebanese host communities through its current area development programming as well as Syrian refugees, and the aid organization has committed an additional 20 percent of funds to support host communities, seeking to alleviate already existing tensions between the two communities and provide much-needed support.
For more information or interviews with staff and affected families in Lebanon, please contact Laura Blank (+1.708.872.5265) or Lauren Fisher (+1.206.310.5476) at World Vision.
About World Vision
World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews.