Of the more than 1 million Syrian refugees currently in Lebanon now, at least 70 percent live below the Lebanese extreme poverty line. This represents a significant increase over 2014, according to the United Nations, while hunger is becoming an increasingly significant issue. Conditions for Syrian refugees, overall, are increasingly worse, according to the international body.
The UN is calling on Lebanon to better incorporate the Syrians into its national economy, providing employment and business opportunities. According to a report released on December 23, every day in the refugee camps represents a “monumental struggle to meet the most basic needs.” This is according to the 2015 UN Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon. The report said that the rise of the numbers of refugees falling below the $3.84-per-day poverty rate for Lebanon represents a huge increase over the number for 2014: 49 per cent.
The UN representative for refugee affairs in Lebanon, Mireille Girard, called for solidarity and support for the hundreds of thousands of refugees.  "Without a robust and sustainable humanitarian response, refugees risk sinking deeper and deeper into poverty," she added.
The report said that Syrian refugees now represent 25 per cent of Lebanon's total population, the world's highest number of refugees per inhabitant. Lebanon’s employment restrictions has made it harder for the refugees, said the report, to cover their needs through work and economic activity. "The main cause of food insecurity among Syrian refugees in Lebanon is lack of earning power," the report said. "Policies, measures and programs oriented towards allowing refugees to generate income while protecting the Lebanese labor market and mitigating potential tensions with the host community are recommended."
According to the report, food security in Lebanon has significantly worsened since 2014, with moderate insecurity almost doubling from 12 per cent to 23 per cent of refugee households, and 65 per cent classified as mildly food insecure. Out of 1,174,690 Syrian refugees registered with UN High Commission on Refugees in June 2015, 763,549 were estimated to be mildly food insecure, 272,528 moderately food insecure and 5,873 severely food insecure. Just 129,216 were considered food secure. The refugees depend on food vouchers and loans as a primary means of livelihood. A statement from the UN said that difference between monthly expenditures and income was estimated at $300 which households have to cover mainly by taking on debt. The report said that only half of the children aged 6-14 years currently attend school, while their diet continues to degrade. 
"Each day represents a monumental struggle to meet the most basic needs,” said the report, while it added that returning home to Syria is currently out of the question. Their dependency is increasing. "Given the limited possibilities to move to other countries, refugees continue living in a stressful context with no way out. Lebanon and the refugees it is hosting are in a very delicate state: the situation requires special and immediate measures." Lebanon’s economy has been stressed by the presence of the refugees, who must meet stringent guidelines in order to receive work permits.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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