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Over 336,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon
Syrian refugee children play in the southern port city of Sidon, Wednesday, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
Syrian refugee children play in the southern port city of Sidon, Wednesday, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
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BEIRUT: More than 10,000 Syrian refugees registered with the U.N. refugee agency in the past week, bringing the total number of refugees who are registered or are set to register in Lebanon to 336,000.

On March 7, more than 1,050 people enrolled, the highest number to do so in a single day so far, UNHCR said Friday. It added that its new Zahle center has now been open for a week, increasing the agency’s capacity to process newcomers.

Local primary health care centers are under increasing strain, as Syrian refugees are adding to their regular patient levels. UNHCR and its various charity partners have been approached by 2,245 refugees for consultations in the last week, and 587 Syrian refugees were admitted to hospitals.

UNHCR added that 265,000 Lebanese and Syrian children from ages 0 to 18 had been vaccinated against measles and polio in a joint effort of the Health Ministry, UNICEF and WHO. The campaign has so far concentrated on areas with the most refugees and on March 18 will spread to the remaining areas.

An ongoing challenge for refugees is shelter, and municipalities said many new arrivals are staying in “extremely congested” shelters. Some refugees have received cash to pay rent, and the Norwegian Refugee Council is signing contracts with Lebanese owners of unfinished houses in the Bekaa Valley and Akkar. They plan to rehabilitate these structures to house Syrian refugees. Other agencies are also working to make houses in need of repair fit for living.

In the past week, 40,000 winter-clothes vouchers, electric heaters, blankets, pillows, mattresses, hygiene and baby kits were distributed by various nongovernmental organizations; 18,000 World Food Program vouchers and 5,000 fuel coupons were also given to refugees.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 09, 2013, on page 3.
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