Syrian crisis: Impact on Lebanon

30-03-2017

The crisis in Syria has had a significant impact on neighbouring countries over the past six years. Five million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, putting host countries and communities under great pressure. Moreover, violence has spilled over into some neighbouring countries, including Lebanon. The impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon has been immense. Since the outbreak of the crisis in 2011, up to 1.5 million displaced persons are believed to have crossed the border into Lebanon, formerly home to around 4.5 million people. The population has grown by an unprecedented 30 % in under four years, making Lebanon the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide. The situation in neighbouring Syria has exacerbated Lebanon's political instability, and led to political deadlock for the past three years. This, in turn, has made it impossible to tackle some urgent challenges arising from the refugee presence, and from underlying structural problems with the delivery of basic services to the Lebanese population. Moreover, there are concerns, particularly among Christians, Shias and Druze, that a large number of Syrian Sunni Muslims could upset the delicate sectarian balance in Lebanon's multi-confessional political system. In light of Lebanon's experience with up to 280 000 Palestine refugees, its population is united in its opposition to a lasting refugee presence in the country. The Lebanese government insists that the presence of refugees from Syria is 'temporary', despite the absence of reasonable prospects for their safe return to their homeland in the foreseeable future. The international community has stepped in to help countries in the region cope with the influx of large numbers of vulnerable people. Emphasis has shifted from traditional humanitarian aid to 'resilience building'. This implies creating the long-term conditions that will allow Syrians to build a future for themselves and their children in the region, including acquiring the skills and tools to re-build their own country once they are able to return. The EU is co-hosting an international conference on 'Supporting the future of Syria and the region' on 5 April 2017, which will assess where the international community stands collectively in helping the region cope with the crisis.

The crisis in Syria has had a significant impact on neighbouring countries over the past six years. Five million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, putting host countries and communities under great pressure. Moreover, violence has spilled over into some neighbouring countries, including Lebanon. The impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon has been immense. Since the outbreak of the crisis in 2011, up to 1.5 million displaced persons are believed to have crossed the border into Lebanon, formerly home to around 4.5 million people. The population has grown by an unprecedented 30 % in under four years, making Lebanon the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide. The situation in neighbouring Syria has exacerbated Lebanon's political instability, and led to political deadlock for the past three years. This, in turn, has made it impossible to tackle some urgent challenges arising from the refugee presence, and from underlying structural problems with the delivery of basic services to the Lebanese population. Moreover, there are concerns, particularly among Christians, Shias and Druze, that a large number of Syrian Sunni Muslims could upset the delicate sectarian balance in Lebanon's multi-confessional political system. In light of Lebanon's experience with up to 280 000 Palestine refugees, its population is united in its opposition to a lasting refugee presence in the country. The Lebanese government insists that the presence of refugees from Syria is 'temporary', despite the absence of reasonable prospects for their safe return to their homeland in the foreseeable future. The international community has stepped in to help countries in the region cope with the influx of large numbers of vulnerable people. Emphasis has shifted from traditional humanitarian aid to 'resilience building'. This implies creating the long-term conditions that will allow Syrians to build a future for themselves and their children in the region, including acquiring the skills and tools to re-build their own country once they are able to return. The EU is co-hosting an international conference on 'Supporting the future of Syria and the region' on 5 April 2017, which will assess where the international community stands collectively in helping the region cope with the crisis.