Syrian refugees hit million mark in Lebanon
The number of Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon has exceeded one million, in what the UN refugee agency calls a “devastating milestone” for a small country with depleted resources and brewing sectarian tension.
Refugees from Syria, half of them children, now equal a quarter of Lebanon’s resident population, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement, warning that most of them live in poverty and depend on aid for survival.
UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres described the figure as “a devastating milestone worsened by rapidly depleting resources and a host community stretched to breaking point”.
“Tiny Lebanon has now become the country with “the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide,” and is “struggling to keep pace”, Guterres said in a statement.
“The influx of a million refugees would be massive in any country. For Lebanon, a small nation beset by internal difficulties, the impact is staggering,” he said.
Jan Egeland, the secretarygeneral of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which has 1,000 relief workers in and around Syria, told Al Jazeera that the figure could easily be “more than half a million” higher.
Egeland said not all of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon had officially registered with the UN, an annual requirement to receive food rations, health and education services - and the process often takes months.