BEIRUT: The UNHCR reported an increase in refugee registrations in its Bekaa processing center, a development that could indicate an overall increase in the number of refugees arriving from Syria.
Most of these arrivals are settling in Zahle, Baalbek and the western Bekaa, according to the U.N. humanitarian organization’s most recent weekly report. The document went on to say that some 8,000 refugees were registered this week, bringing the total number of registered refugees in Lebanon to 155,000. About 223,000 receive services.
As refugees pour across the border and winter drags on, shelter has become a major concern among relief agencies. The Lebanese government has not officially approved the construction of refugee camps, but de-facto camps have sprung up around the country and there is growing political pressure to recognize them.
In the meantime, the UNHCR is negotiating with the Lebanese government to establish temporary transit sites to house refugees. The refugee agency toured 17 tented settlements this week, noting an average increase of three to five tents in each settlement compared with last month.
Many of these new residents are seasonal laborers who normally return to Syria in the winter but were unable to this year due to the conflict.
The UNHCR along with its partner organizations distributed some 37,000 vouchers for food and another 15,000 for fuel in the past week. The agency also distributed winter clothes, electric heaters, pillows, mattresses, hygiene and baby kits to 42,000 refugees.
Investigations into last week’s security incidents in which two Syrian refugee families in Akkar were targeted have yielded neither a motive nor the possible identity of the perpetrators. The family in Hayzouk that was shot at was moved to a collective shelter, while the family in Sheikh Lar declined to leave their house where a grenade was thrown onto the roof.