The swelling number of Syrian civilians seeking refuge in Lebanon is proving to be an increasingly heavy burden on the East Mediteranean country, a United Nations senior official said today.
In his meeting with the Lebanese Prime Minister, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly has expressed concern over the security situation along Lebanon’s border with Syria.
He also voiced concern over the spate of violence and kidnappings which have raised fears of renewed sectarian conflict in Lebanon.
“I am very conscious of the challenges to law and order that have occurred recently here, particularly the fighting in Tripoli that led to serious loss of life and the kidnappings in Lebanon and previously in Syria.” -Mr. Plumbly
Responding to the refugee crisis, Mr. Plumbly said UN UN assistance has doubled as displaced Syrians continued to flee the violence in their country and cross the border into neighbouring Lebanon.
“I expect to see a further appeal from the United Nations to donors to assist in caring for the displaced people here in Lebanon because their numbers have increased and the burden is understood.” – Mr. Plumbly
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported there is a huge increase of number of Syrian refugees arriving in eastern Lebanon’s Bekaa valley. Reports say about 2,200 people settling in the east last week.
Currently, UNHCR says some 51,000 Syrians have registered or applied to register with UNHCR in Lebanon.
In addition, Mr. Plumbly stresses that continuing wave of refugees, cross border clashes and shelling have also threatened the security along the Lebanese-Syrian border.
“We are looking now with more urgency at what we can do to help the security authorities here in Lebanon to control the border as it should be.” -Mr. Plumbly
Earlier this week, looking for safer grounds, thousands of Syrian refugees have crossed the borders in Lebanon particularly in eastern Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
The new arrivals almost double the recent weekly average.
Northern Lebanon the arrivals rate remains steady at about 400 people arriving every week.
The agency continues to search for alternative shelter for refugees staying in schools as well.
In addition, the turmoil in Syria is forcing more and more people from their homes, with 30,000 people believed to have fled Syria into neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq over the past week alone.
With growing influx of civilians fleeing from conflict, humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate.
Reports say up to 1.5 million Syrians are in need of assistance.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that civilians attempting to flee from fighting need urgent assistance and protection.
OCHA reported that aid agencies continue to face significant access constraints to reaching people in need.
In addition, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that it needs additional funds of around $14 million for its response to the crisis in Syria. Along with its partners, UNICEF is providing assistance to Syrian children in need in areas such as health, nutrition, education and child protection.
UN estimates that there are over 1 million Syrians inside Syria in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Of that number, it’s an estimated 300,000 internally displaced.
There are over 66,000 refugees in neighboring countries and there are existing refugees, Palestinian refugees, totaling about 500,000 inside Syria as well as a hundred thousand Iraqi refugees inside Syria.
The violence in Syria, which began in March 2011 as a protest movement similar to those witnessed across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 18,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands.