BEIRUT: Work began Friday on a reception center for newly arrived refugees on the Lebanese side of the Masnaa border crossing in the Bekaa Valley.
The center is the first of its kind to be established in the country since the onset of the Syria crisis. As the region braces for Western military intervention in Syria, the U.N. refugee agency and its partners agreed Wednesday with the Social Affairs Ministry to open the site.
The new reception center will offer refugees information and counseling services alongside water, sanitation and health facilities, but there will be no shelter options on site for the newcomers, UNHCR spokeswoman Joelle Eid said.
International Medical Corps was on site, country director Colin Lee told The Daily Star, as his staff was busy preparing for a possible flood of refugees in the coming days.
Eid noted that IMC had already sent a mobile medical unit to the site from which the NGO would provide primary health care services and referrals for those refugees needing further or more specific treatment.
The spokesperson also pointed out that while there will be no formal UNHCR registration office at the reception center, refugees with specific needs and in need of urgent registration will be identified and referred the appropriate channels.
But contrary to several news reports, the U.N. confirmed Friday that the expected refugee flood from Syria had not yet materialized.
“The last week in August did not witness any significant changes in the patterns of arrivals at the borders despite heightened tensions inside Syria,” UNHCR said in its August report, which said Lebanon is now host to more than 716,000 refugees.