News ID: 206339
Published: 0810 GMT December 17, 2017

Syrian refugees in Lebanon falling deeper in poverty

Syrian refugees in Lebanon falling deeper in poverty
dailymail.co.uk

Syrian refugees in Lebanon are more vulnerable than ever, with more than half now living in extreme poverty, and over three quarters living below the poverty line, according to the findings of a major UN study.

Released Friday, "The Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon" (VASyR), is a yearly study carried out by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP), en.annahar.com wrote.

The 2017 survey revealed that 58 percent of households are living in extreme poverty (less than $2.87/person/day), unable to meet survival needs — an increase of five percent to the extreme poverty levels since last year. Refugees now have less money for essentials – with average per capita spending now standing at just $98 per month – $44 of which is spent on food.

The proportion of households living below the poverty line (less than $3.84/person/day) has also continued to increase, reaching 76 percent of refugee households in 2017.

“Syrian refugees in Lebanon are barely keeping afloat,” said Mireille Girard, UNHCR Representative in Lebanon.

“Most families are extremely vulnerable and dependent on aid from the international community."

She added, "Without continued support, their situation would be even more harrowing, especially in winter when their struggle is exacerbated by the harsh conditions.”

Borrowing money to buy food, cover health expenses and pay rent is extremely common, with 87 percent of refugees saying they were in debt. On average, 77 percent of Syrian refugee households experienced a lack of food or money to buy food during the 30 days prior to the survey.

Although high, these figures reveal an improvement over 2016, when 91 percent reported borrowing money and 88 percent reported a lack of food or money to buy food.

Only 19 percent of families reported that all members had legal residency, down from 21 percent in 2016.

More alarmingly, the share of households with no members having legal residency increased considerably, reaching 55 percent in 2017. Overall, 74 percent of surveyed Syrian refugees aged 15 and above do not have legal residency.

The survey also revealed that only 17 percent of refugee parents managed to complete all the steps of the birth registration process for their children.

The report indicates, however, that higher percentages of families have completed the first two steps of the process — with nearly all families (96 percent) obtaining a notification of birth from the hospital or midwife, and three quarters obtaining a certificate from the Mukhtar (town leader), which attests to the birth of the child, but does not constitute birth registration.

Just over one-third of the children had their birth registered with the local civil registry office of the Nofous, the third step of the birth registration process.

Food insecurity remained critically high, with 91 percent of households affected to some degree. While this is an improvement on 2016, the majority of households reported that they had cut spending on food (79 percent) or bought food on credit (77 percent).

“While still high, the food insecurity situation has stabilized, reflecting the positive impact that cash-based food assistance has on the most vulnerable refugee households,” explained WFP Country Director Dominik Heinrich.

“That said, sustained donor support for 2018 is the only way to ensure that there is no further deterioration nor recourse to harmful coping strategies by vulnerable refugees in Lebanon.”

Significant improvements have been made in school enrolment for children aged 6-14 — with a national average of 70 percent now enrolled — up from 52 percent last year. Enrolment rates in the Bekaa Valley nearly doubled in just one year. However, while enrolment rates are up, completion of education remains an enormous challenge — with just 12 percent of adolescents aged 17-19 having completed their education up to grade 9.

“Needless to say, we are pleased with our achievements and the increasing enrolment. But, what we find deeply worrying is the rising poverty, since it directly impacts children’s possibility of exercising their basic right to education," said Tanya Chapuisat, UNICEF’s representative in Lebanon.

 A range of humanitarian assistance continues to be provided with 71 percent of respondents saying they received some form of assistance in the previous three months.

Monthly cash-based food assistance by WFP makes up the largest proportion of support, reaching almost 700,000 refugees.

During the colder months, UNHCR’s seasonal unrestricted winter cash program includes close to 800,000 persons. Furthermore, unrestricted cash safety net support by UNHCR reaches 198,000 of the most severely vulnerable persons (33,000 households) on a monthly basis.

Child-focused humanitarian cash from UNICEF expanded from a pilot covering 50,000 refugee children in the 2016/2017 school year, to 75,000 in the 2017/2018 school year.

The 2017 Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (VASyR) is the fifth survey of its kind, with researchers having visited some 5,000 refugee families randomly selected from 26 districts across Lebanon.

   
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