UN urges more support for states hosting Syria refugees

BEIRUT, LEBANON- Syrian refugees are increasingly desperate after years in exile and face rising social tensions in overstretched regional host nations, a UN representative warned Monday, urging more funds and resettlement.
"The refugee situation is not one country's problem, it's everyone's problem, and everyone has to respond together," said Mireille Girard, UN refugee agency UNHCR's representative in Lebanon.

A conference in Brussels this week will seek to secure new funding and resettlement pledges from the international community, with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri expected to request upwards of $10 billion over five to seven years.
More than one million Syrians have taken refuge in Lebanon since their country's conflict began in March 2011, equal to a quarter of the tiny nation's native population.
The influx has strained Lebanon's limited resources and infrastructure, and caused resentment in some quarters.
"What we see at the moment is more tension between communities, we see demonstrations by some communities between the others," Girard said, echoing warnings from Hariri last week.
"We see some xenophobia mounting a bit, though... it's actually much less than in Europe," she added.
Among the refugee population, she said, there was increasing desperation, with many dependent on shrinking assistance and unable to support themselves.
"The levels of vulnerability of people have increased tremendously over the last two years," she told AFP.
"If they don't pay bills, they don't pay their rent, they accumulate debt -- this is a cause of social tension."
Girard said much of the Brussels conference's focus would be on funds for infrastructure, describing it as a way to create jobs, improve services and benefit host communities.
Hariri last week warned that Lebanon was at "breaking point" and "facing a crisis" over the number of Syrian refugees.
"I fear civil unrest," he said, adding that he would ask the Brussels conference for funds to improve schools, roads and security in Lebanon.
The Beirut government says the true number of Syrian refugees in the country is closer to 1.5 million rather than the official one million registered with the UN.
The UN stopped registering refugee figures in Lebanon in 2015, at the government's request.

Monday, April 3rd 2017

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