UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi urges support for crisis-hit Lebanon
BEIRUT – At the end of a two day visit to Lebanon, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, urged the international community to scale-up its support to the Lebanese people and the refugees they host.
“I am visiting Lebanon during a very difficult moment,” Grandi said, “the Lebanese people and refugees are suffering as the political, economic and financial crisis is taking a toll on everyone.”
The High Commissioner met with the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament, and other Ministers and officials to discuss how to better support the Lebanese people and Syrians in the country.
“I am making an urgent appeal to the international community to do more for refugees and Lebanese host communities. The support being provided to this dramatic situation is not enough.”
Lebanon continues to host the largest number of refugees per capita in the world. Nine out of ten Syrian refugees in the country are living in extreme poverty and nearly half of Lebanese fall under the poverty line.
Grandi also visited Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley who spoke of horrific struggles to be able to provide their families with basic needs.
“Families are desperate. Refugees told me that boys as young as 12 years old are not going to school because they have to work to support their families.”
“Mothers told me that when their children are sick, they have to choose which one gets medicine and which does not. That is a choice no parent should have to face and yet many refugee and Lebanese families are now in the same situation,” Grandi added.
In light of the worsening economy and the impact of COVID-19, UNHCR increased its support to refugee and hosting communities, providing both direct assistance to families and infrastructure support. As part of its COVID-19 response, UNHCR provided 13 hospitals with ventilators, monitors and hospital beds. UNHCR has also been supporting hospitals with fuel. In the coming months, assistance will be provided to the most vulnerable refugee and Lebanese families to help them stay warm this winter.
During his visit, Grandi also discussed UNHCR’s efforts to find solutions to displacement, including resettlement, and safe and voluntary returns to Syria.
“While the majority of refugees say their wish is to return home eventually, most have not done so yet. It is important that we continue working with all stakeholders – the government of Syria, the host countries, and the donor community – to address obstacles to return and help create an environment that would enable safe and voluntary returns to Syria. This includes expanding the scope of humanitarian assistance inside Syria to help make any voluntary returns sustainable.”
Grandi left Lebanon for Syria where he will meet Syrian officials and review the humanitarian situation and response.