BEIRUT: The U.N.’s refugee agency has met with the Social Affairs Ministry to seek authorization to turn abandoned public buildings into collective shelters for the growing number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
The matter was described as an “urgent priority” for the body, according to Friday’s edition of the latest weekly report.
There are now 128,841 displaced Syrians in Lebanon, either registered or having embarked upon the process of registration, with nearly 7,000 registered in the last week alone.
Yet there are possibly tens of thousands more unregistered refugees living in the country.
Some 2,450 refugees arrived in Lebanon over the last week, with the majority entering through official border crossings at Masnaa in east Lebanon and the Bekayaa/Aboudieh point in north Lebanon.
However, the flow of refugees across the border at Wadi Khaled was relatively slow this week, the report states. “The main reasons behind this continue to be prohibitive bribes and targeted shootings on the Syrian side hindering access to Lebanon,” it read.
The Ministry of Social Affairs will soon resume joint registration of refugees, alongside the UNHCR, the report added.
The government announced several weeks ago that it would waive the $200 residency renewal fee for Syrians, but this has yet to be implemented.
The report stated that the “UNHCR continues to follow up with the General Security Office on the previously announced commitments to waive renewal fees and to regularize [the status of] those refugees who crossed through unofficial border crossings.”
After the issue of shelter, ensuring refugees are sufficiently prepared for winter is one of the main concerns of the UNHCR and the local and international organizations working alongside it.
The most noticeable gap in this sector “remains the provision of aid to newly arrived families and Lebanese families returning from Syria to Lebanon.”
This article was amended on Saturday, November 24 2012
Registration of refugees will be resumed by the Ministry of Social Affairs, not the Higher Relief Committee as the article originally stated.