left the country by paying traffickers to smuggle them into Turkey or Europe. “We get information from different sources to try and triangulate the information. We do try to find out if there are indications that people have tried to go to Europe. We conducted a random survey recently and found around 40 percent of people said they either knew someone or heard of someone who has left,” Girard says. Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces have prevented illegal departures. According to United Nations’ estimates, about half of the International Organization for Migration’s figure of 332,000 asylum seekers through August 2015 that tried to reach Europe from the Mediterranean Sea were Syrian.
Executive was only able to obtain conclusive data on the number of formal resettlements to third countries. Since 2013, countries have agreed to resettlement pledges for some 162,000 Syrian refugees from countries across the Middle East. For 2015, the number of pledges allocated for refugees in Lebanon is 16,600. Through October 2015, some 4,228 Syrian refugees had left Lebanon to third countries through resettlement programs. The aim, UNHCR’s Girard told Executive, is to soonerrather- than- later resettle 10 percent of Lebanon’s Syrian refugee population. “With 1 million refugees in Lebanon, our target is 100,000. That would be noticed by everybody and would have an impact,” she said.
In the near term, that target for Lebanon will be slow to reach. The process of resettlement takes time, with refugees sometimes departing more than a year after their application is submitted. Since 2011, only 10,155 Syrian refugees in Lebanon have been resettled — primarily to countries in the Americas, Europe and Oceania. UNHCR says they cannot give a specific country-by-country breakdown of where refugees were resettled.
For 2016, UNHCR is still waiting to hear what resettlement quotas will be allocated for Lebanon. With seemingly no end to the war alongside deteriorating living conditions, Syrian refugees in Lebanon no doubt question their future. Only a few, however, will receive a permanent answer.