More than half of the Syrian refugees living in Lebanon are in extreme poverty, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.
The latest UNHCR survey on the situation of Lebanon’s Syrian refugee population found that 58 percent of Syrian households in Lebanon were spending money well below the minimum for basic expenditures – food, health, shelter and education – meaning they live in extreme poverty and cannot afford to survive. Additionally, the proportion of Syrian refugee households living below the poverty line (spending $3.84 per person per day) increased to 76 percent in 2017.
Many Syrian refugees in Lebanon have no legal residency status, and are forced to work in informal employment and rely on assistance from aid agencies, friends or others who may provide them with financial loans. Assistance from the World Food Programme accounted for the primary source of income for 28 percent of refugee households, the UNHCR said.
“Without continued support, the situation of Syrian refugees would be even more harrowing, especially in winter when their struggle is exacerbated by the harsh conditions” @UNHCRGirard . Check our latest study on vulnerability of Syrian refugees in Lebanon https://t.co/HUOX1xdq9n pic.twitter.com/6ABlTAVcYN
— UNHCR Lebanon (@UNHCRLebanon) December 15, 2017
The UNHCR assessment found that children remain vulnerable, and many are not in school. Children as young as 5-years-old reported working and child marriage remained a problem, with one in five girls aged 15-19 reported being married. Eighteen percent said they were married with spouses 10 or more years older than them.
However, the number of refugee children aged 6 to 14 in school increased from around 50 percent to 70 percent.
The latest UNHCR report comes as many Syrian refugees in Lebanon are facing pressure to return home. Lebanon is home to over one million registered Syrian refugees, accounting for around 20 percent of the country’s total population. Many more people may be in the country without registering with the UNHCR.
Many of the refugees live in precarious conditions in informal settlements without legal protection. A fire in one such settlement in the eastern village of Ghaze killed seven children last week, UNHCR said.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has called for more help from the international community, saying last week that Lebanon “is paying a very big price on behalf of the entire world” and the refugee crisis has cost the country more than $20 billion since the Syrian civil war began in 2011.