BEIRUT: The U.N. and its partners are now assisting 57,482 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, an increase of over 6,000 since last week.
This figure includes 15,533 awaiting registration, jointly with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the Lebanese government’s Higher Relief Committee. As many displaced Syrians remain unregistered, activists and charity leaders in Lebanon believe the total figure is closer to 90,000.
In the eastern Bekaa valley, the number of Syrians to have arrived over the last week is almost double the average, with local charities and authorities reporting about 2,200 people settling in the east, according to the weekly UNHCR report.
However, in the north of Lebanon, the rate of arrivals has remained steady, at about 400 new arrivals every week.
The UNHCR is now extending its activities to southern Lebanon, as the number of displaced people in this region increases also, the report says.
Of biggest concern to the U.N. agency is the lack of shelter options available to refugees in Lebanon. While many are staying with host families or relatives, others are staying in schools, but ahead of the start of the school year, some have been forced to vacate.
The report says that 20 families were evicted from a school in Al-Marj, in the west Bekaa, “but were allowed to extend their stay following intervention by the UNHCR, our NGO partners, and the Social Affairs Ministry.”
“We continue to search for alternative shelter for refugees staying in schools, and are running a hotline for refugees who are coming under pressure to vacate,” the report adds.
Across Lebanon, the UNHCR’s shelter strategy combines refurbishing abandoned buildings to provide collective accommodation and offering cash grants to the “most vulnerable.”
There are now 228,976 Syrian refugees registered with the U.N., or awaiting registration, across the region, with 80,410 in Turkey and 72,402 in Jordan. In Syria the U.N. says there are 1.2 million displaced internally.
This week’s report also states that Syrian refugees have begun arriving, albeit in small numbers, to Europe, with the highest reported increase in Sweden, where 2,911 Syrians have sought asylum since January, compared to 640 during 2011 in total.