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Seven years into the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis, the refugees, Lebanese communities hosting them and international donors, are all tired. A conference hosted by the American University of Beirut's Issam Fares Institute this week examined some of the most troubling effects of the protracted crisis and resulting fatigue, as well as some of the innovative projects that have aimed to address the needs of refugees and their hosts.The refugees are also facing increasing strain. About 950,000 Syrian refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Lebanon and the actual number is believed to be considerably higher. More than 90 percent of those queried as part of a 2017 United Nations survey agreed that the presence of the Syrian refugees is putting too much strain on resources like water and electricity, and nearly half agreed that relations with the refugees had worsened since 2014 .Carmen Geha, an assistant professor of public administration, blamed a "schizophrenic foreign policy" by the Lebanese government for stoking tensions.As an example, she pointed to statements of ongoing support for refugees made by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri at April's CEDRE conference, followed two months later by a public blowup between Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and the UNHCR over the agency's cautious approach to refugee returns, in which Bassil ordered a freeze on residency permits for the organization's foreign staff.
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