The High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, urged the international community to provide more support to both the Lebanese people and the refugees on its soil, following his two-day visit to Lebanon.
According to the UNHCR statement, Grandi said: “I am visiting Lebanon and it is going through a very difficult period. Both the Lebanese people and the refugees are suffering greatly as a result of the political, economic and financial crisis that affects everyone.”
The statement added: “The High Commissioner had met with the President of the Republic, the Speakers of the House of Representatives and the Ministers, in addition to many ministers and official events to discuss ways to provide aid to the Lebanese and Syrians. “I am making an urgent appeal to the international community to provide more for the refugees and for the Lebanese,” he said. The support they are getting is not enough for them in this tragic situation.”
Lebanon continues to host the largest proportion of refugees in the world relative to its population. Nine out of ten refugees live in extreme poverty, with nearly half of the Lebanese population living below the poverty line.
Grandi also visited Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley, who spoke of their “horrific struggles in being able to secure the most basic daily needs for their families.”
Then Grandi said, “Families are desperate and refugees have told me that boys as young as 12 are not going to school because they have to work to help their families.”
He added: “Mothers tell me, when their children are sick, that they have to choose who gets the medicine and this is a choice that parents should not face. However, many Lebanese families are experiencing the same problem.”
UNHCR has increased its support for refugees and the Lebanese in light of the deteriorating economic situation and the repercussions of the Corona pandemic, as it provided direct assistance to families and support for infrastructure. In its response to the repercussions of COVID-19, UNHCR has provided thirteen hospitals with intensive care unit beds, respirators and other medical equipment. The Commission also supported hospitals with diesel fuel. In the coming months, aid will be provided to Lebanese families and the poorest refugees to help them secure heating this winter.
During his visit, he also discussed UNHCR’s efforts to find asylum solutions, including resettlement to a third country and safe and voluntary return to Syria.
He concluded: “While the majority of refugees say they would like to eventually return home, most have not yet done so. It is important that we continue to work with all stakeholders – the Syrian government, host countries, and donors – to address obstacles to return and help create an environment that will enable safe and voluntary returns to Syria. This includes expanding humanitarian assistance inside Syria to help make any voluntary return sustainable.”
Grandi left Lebanon for Syria, “where he will meet with Syrian officials and review the humanitarian situation and the humanitarian response.”