Lebanon News

Syrian refugees inch closer to 1 million mark

File - Syrian refugee children play near a refugee camp made of abandoned buildings and tents in the village of Alman in the Chouf, Thursday, June 20, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT: Almost 13,000 Syrians approached the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees this week, bringing the number of refugees registered or awaiting registration to 890,000, according to the latest figures.

The agency noted that the average waiting time for refugees had decreased to 25 days, the lowest since January of last year.

The majority of new arrivals continue to flock to the Bekaa Valley and North Lebanon, which now have a total registered refugee population of 282,853 and 247,425 respectively.

Shelter support, one of the key challenges in humanitarian relief efforts, was offered to over 10,800 refugees, including cash for rent, cash to host families, rehabilitation of collective shelters and the distribution of sealing-off kits for shelters that are exposed to the outdoors.

Between Jan. 9 and 22, about 2,300 Lebanese host families spread out across 16 municipalities in Wadi Khaled and Akroum each received $600 from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. These areas, among the most impoverished in the country, were also among the first to take in refugees when the Syrian uprising began in March 2011 and have been heavily burdened as a result.

Also, 41 new informal tent settlements were identified in the Bekaa Valley by Medair, bringing the total number of informal settlements in Lebanon to over 450. Specialized teams are following up to profile the new residents.

About 165 refugees received legal counseling from the International Relief and Development this week, including legal advice about passport renewal, birth and marriage registration, gender-based violence, illegal entry, assault charges and labor laws.

Over 508,000 refugees had their food e-cards reloaded by the World Food Program this month and about 11,700 newly arrived refugees were given food parcels.

About 16,148 Syrian students were enrolled in 48 second-shift schools, with three second-shift schools in the Bekaa Valley, Qobeiyat and Mount Lebanon yet to reach their enrolment threshold.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 25, 2014, on page 3.




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