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.

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