Lebanon has the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. The estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees and almost 175,000 Palestinian refugees amount to over a quarter of Lebanon's total population. This has put pressure on public services and affected the country's demographic balance, threatening to impact on Lebanon’s own political stability.
Under Lebanese law, Syrians and Palestinians are not considered refugees, but “guests” granted temporary hospitality. The Lebanese government opposes creating formal camps, so refugees must find, and pay for, their own accommodations or live in informal settlements.
Since 2015, Lebanon's borders have been closed to civilians fleeing Syria. It is hard for refugees already in the country to renew their legal stay, making it difficult for refugees to move freely without fear of arrest or detention. Refugees cannot legally work and struggle to meet their essential needs. Seventy six percent of Syrian refugee households live below the national poverty line.
People we helped in Lebanon in 2017
We support everyone affected by displacement in Lebanon and advocate for refugee rights inside the country, regionally and internationally.
NRC also works with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, including those living in designated Palestinian refugee camps and those living in informal settlements. This assistance includes tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees from Syria.
Because refugees in Lebanon live side-by-side with the Lebanese, we also work to provide aid and assistance to Lebanese communities hosting displaced people.
We run programmes for refugees from Syria at our community centres, NRC alternative learning spaces, support programming in Lebanese public schools and in schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Our education activities:
- support access to schooling and keeping children in school
- create non-formal education opportunities to reach out-of-school children, such as catch-up classes
- train teachers in informal educational methods
- rehabilitating Lebanese public schools
- provide vocational training and language classes for out-of-school youth and young adults
- support UNRWA's schools for Palestinian refugees by training teachers on child-centred approaches to teaching
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
Our ICLA teams:
- support access to civil documentation, like permit renewals and birth registration
- prevent housing disputes and forced evictions
- monitor individual cases, from assistance to referrals and follow-up systems
- visit families to ensure they receive the information they need and to identify special concerns
- raise awareness among refugees of their rights in Lebanon
- provide legal assistance and representation for Palestinian refugees, particularly in cases concerning property inheritance
Shelter and settlements
Our shelter efforts provide affordable, quality housing – and we are the main providers of such housing in Lebanon. Our shelter projects include:
- providing a minimum of 12 months of rent-free housing for Syrian refugees though the Occupancy Free of Charge programme
- Integrated programming with WASH and ICLA teams
- ensure that renovated properties have adequate water, sewage and sanitation facilities
- rehabilitating Lebanese public schools
- provide materials for emergency weather proofing, or provide cash vouchers to purchase proofing materials
- building repairs in Palestinian refugee camps
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion
We work to expand water and sanitation services and improve hygiene practices among Syrian and Palestinian refugees, and local Lebanese communities. Our WASH teams:
- ensure that shelter projects have adequate water, sewage and sanitation facilities
- construct water network extensions, including boreholes, to increase clean water supply to refugee and local communities
- lead community support projects to lend crucial infrastructure support to vulnerable Lebanese communities
- set up new sanitation systems that use small-scale septic tanks to manage sewage
- create WASH committees in informal tented settlements, to help refugees take care of WASH infrastructure maintenance and services
Community Management and Coordination
Our teams work on collective site management and coordination in informal settlements:
- strengthening the self-management of Syrian refugees who live in settlements
- building refugees' coordination capacity and enhancing their involvement in aid, while reducing their dependency on it
- collaborating closely with the Ministry of Social Affairs, municipality leaders, UNHCR and other partners
- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA)
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
- KfW Development Bank (Germany)
- Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)
- United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID)
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- European Union Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis, The “MADAD fund”
- The Principality of Liechtenstein
- Germany (Federal Foreign Office - FFO)
About NRC in (country)
Country DirectorKate Norton
Phone+961 1 366 113/4/5
Engaging in his children’s education
“Refugee children in Lebanon live in terrible conditions, and are thus deprived, in many ways, of their childhood. They are witnesses to war in Syria and many of them are experiencing trauma, which is difficult to deal with,” says thirty-year-old Mohammad.
Welcoming a positive turn for refugees in Lebanon
Although negative rhetoric and unlawful evictions escalated in late 2017, policy changes that give more refugees a chance at legal residency are reasons for optimism.