Photo: Ahmad Bayram/NRC

Cross-border hostilities deepen suffering for refugees and local communities in crisis-hit Lebanon

Published 25. Apr 2024
More than six months of hostilities have inflicted deep suffering on refugees and local communities in South Lebanon.

All aspects of life have been affected by ongoing conflict across the border area, exacerbated by the multiple crises facing Lebanon, warned Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), on a visit to the country.

Attacks have intensified over the last 48 hours, with several civilians reportedly killed and injured in South Lebanon. The exchange of explosives across the southern border has affected civilians on both sides, displaced more than 90,000 civilians living in South Lebanese villages, and claimed more than 70 lives. Israeli attacks on southern Lebanese villages have caused widespread damage to hundreds of acres of agricultural lands, disrupting farmers’ only source of income. 

“I have returned to Lebanon to find communities suffering throughout the country. The conflict in Gaza and its wider impact has deepened tensions that are on the brink of imploding. It simply cannot continue like this,” said Egeland. “People fleeing southern villages in search of a safe place end up in overcrowded shelters. Their livelihoods have been destroyed, but we have insufficient funding to help them. There is a feeling of desperation here. Greater international solidarity is required immediately to support the civilians caught in the crossfire.”

The hostilities have compounded deep crises in Lebanon. The country has for many years provided a haven for Syrians fleeing conflict at home as well as for Palestinian refugees. It hosts one of the world’s largest refugee populations per capita. Since the economic crisis that started in 2019 the currency has lost  90 per cent of its value. It has tested the resilience of both refugees and host communities. Recent tensions have been inflamed by media campaigns, political statements, and discriminatory measures against refugees.  

Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian populations have all been devastated by the economic crisis. On top of this, humanitarian aid has been cut with inceased suffering among the most vulnerable among refugees as well as Lebanese nationals. Further cuts in the provision of food, medical aid, and water and sanitation services have been announced to families that already survive on a bare minimum. 

“Lebanon urgently needs international support to help it cope with its multiple crises. The country has, in contrast to much richer nations elsewhere, shown great generosity hosting Syrian and Palestinian refugees for decades. It must not be left to shoulder multiple humanitarian responsibilities on its own,” added Egeland. 

NRC calls for the parties to the conflict and international mediators to do more to avert escalating war and reach regional peace and stability. All sides must adhere to international humanitarian law, avoid any indiscriminate attacks and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.  

“We call for an urgent end to fighting. People must be able to go back to their homes and jobs, farmers to their lands, and children to their schools. Families and children are being caught at the centre of a regional crisis here. These are communities that have already endured great suffering and must be provided with the support they require,” said Egeland.  

Notes to editors:

  • Photos and b-roll from Egeland’s visit to Lebanon are available for free use here:
  • At least 70 civilians have been killed in Lebanon and hundreds injured in the hostilities. (OCHA)
  • The Lebanese pound has lost more than 90 per cent of its value (Reuters)
  • Over 90,000people have been displaced into overcrowded shelters, while many schools and hospitals remain closed (OCHA). 
  • 168,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon rely on UNRWA for emergency, multi-purpose cash distribution to improve food security and cover basic living expenses (UNRWA). 
  • Over half of the Lebanese population, and over 90% of Syrian and Palestinian refugees survive under the poverty line (World Bank) (Lebanon crisis response plan).
  • Refugees in Lebanon are confronting reduced levels of aid across the board. (UNHCR)
  • NRC is providing assistance to families in southern Lebanon, Beirut, and Mount Lebanon that have been displaced by hostilities along the border with Israel. NRC is providing assistance, both food kits and cash, to people who stayed in the border areas.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

  • NRC global media hotline:, +47 905 62 329
  • Ahmed Bayram, MENA Media Adviser, currently in Lebanon with Egeland:, +962 79 0160147