There is no doubt that UNHCR has sensed the great difficulties facing the lives of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, after a recent assessment issued at the end of September by the UNHCR, the World Food Program and the United Nations Children’s Fund, showed an increase in the cost of food in Lebanon by 404 percent. This is beyond the capacity of the refugees to bear. Some turn to negative coping strategies to survive: beg, borrow money, stop sending their children to school, cut back on health expenses or not pay rent.
According to the assessment, these strategies negatively affect the ability to adapt and earn future income, making refugee families vulnerable to food insecurity and more dependent on humanitarian assistance.
curtailment of aid
Grandi’s words revealed serious trends to secure all humanitarian, security and social “guarantees” to ensure a safe return to Syria, by finding ways to support. He said the donor community could provide it by continuing to help refugees back home.
This comes at a time when Syrian refugees in Lebanon are talking about a tendency to reduce the value of food aid received by families, starting in November, from 400,000 pounds to 300,000 pounds, and to set the ceiling with the help of six children from the same family, regardless of the number of members of this family. , according to text messages the refugees received on their phones.
While some refugees talked about being deprived of the cash assistance program provided by UNHCR, their sources indicated that excluding some families from the assistance program in the coming year is matched by adding some other families that did not receive assistance previously.
She explained that “the financial resources available to UNHCR and the World Food Program allow only a limited number of families to be assisted. Through the funding currently available for humanitarian assistance, UNHCR is able to provide monthly cash assistance to 57 percent of refugee families (until September 2021 – 171,100 Syrian refugee families). .
During September 2021, and based on what was agreed upon with government partners, UNHCR, the World Food Program and partner organizations were able to increase the value of multi-purpose cash assistance and food aid, respectively, from 400,000 LBP. to 800 thousand LL per family per month, and from 100 thousand LL. to 300 thousand LL per person per month for food aid.
This assistance came as a result of an annual review conducted by the UNHCR and the World Food Program to assess the vulnerabilities of refugee families, using criteria consistent with the prevailing social and economic reality in the country.
Also, according to the UNHCR, the long-awaited increase for both UNHCR and the World Food Program is still below the minimum needed to survive.
Two situations are both bitter
Will this poverty, which the Lebanese and Syrians expect to intensify, be a sufficient reason for the refugees to return to their country?
Grandi conducted a horizon tour of Lebanon that allowed him to identify two types of fears, which he said must be overcome to secure voluntary return. “On the one hand, there is the security reality in Syria and the Syrians’ constant concern for their safety, to legal problems related to the homes and properties of those who have been displaced.” This is what Grandi revealed that work to overcome him is underway with the Syrian government. “On the one hand, there are concerns about the lack of schools, hospitals and homes after their demolition, while the assistance that we can provide in Syria is very limited, because our assistance is exclusively humanitarian.”
These two difficulties also threaten the Syrians’ residency in Lebanon. Refugee women explain what they feel about the threat of losing their families’ homes, due to the inability of many to pay the rent for the “saddlebags” they have taken refuge in, after the owners of the lands on which they grew up raised their prices in proportion to the index of the cost of living necessities. This was confirmed by the “UNHCR” in the last assessment on the reality of refugees. She noted that “refugees struggle to find decent and safe shelter. About 60 percent of their families live in vulnerable, substandard or overcrowded housing. The study shows an increase in average rent allowances for all types of housing and in all governorates, as well as an increase in the likelihood of eviction”
Refugees pointed out that some have found summer work on agricultural lands, and they can pay the rent for housing for the winter. But others spoke of the decline in job opportunities that were available to refugees, especially in construction and infrastructure, as a result of the paralysis of the urban movement in Lebanon.
Therefore, it becomes understandable what was stated in the monthly assessment of the reality of refugees in Lebanon about the state of misery that Syrians are experiencing. Today, 9 out of 10 Syrian refugees still live in extreme poverty. Children are often pushed into the labor market: 27,825 children, according to the latest assessment.
Intimidation and compulsory service
However, some of the refugees hesitate to answer the question whether they are ready to return voluntarily to Syria if the obstacles that prevent this are overcome.
The problem for them is not human – service only. They are convinced that the conditions of life in Syria will not be better than the difficult conditions they are currently experiencing in Lebanon, unless direct humanitarian and financial assistance is secured for them there.
But the most prominent obstacle for many is still their fear of the Syrian regime, and its arms, which they fear will take revenge on them for their opposition to it. They are still very concerned about the compulsory military service for young men, after most of them are married and have families to support.
The solution, then, must be through two parallel tracks to secure the return of Lebanon’s refugees to their country, as they explain: the first is humanitarian, and the second is political, providing them with guarantees that their safety will not be jeopardized, or their freedom is deprived in any way. But how can the word freedom be pronounced in the Syrian regime?! They see the priority as political guarantees of their safety. Otherwise, they demand that they leave Lebanon – if it is necessary to leave because of its difficult circumstances – to any other country other than Syria.