EED visits Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon
This month EED went to visit Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon and met with EED partners and grantees from Syria and Lebanon to discuss their activities, plans and challenges.
More than one million Syrian refugees are living scattered in over 1750 locations around Lebanon. This month EED went to visit Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon and met with EED partners and grantees from Syria and Lebanon to discuss their activities, plans and challenges. While the main focus of European leaders is currently how to tackle the refugee crisis in Europe, Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, Turkey or Jordan also need attention and focus on their difficult situation. EED looked into the opportunities to provide support to refugee communities, within the framework of its mandate.
During its visit, EED met with international organisations, local NGOs and other institutions including EU and member state representatives working with refugee communities in Lebanon. EED also carried out several field visits and took the measure of the challenges faced by Syrian refugees living in Lebanon. Their loss of legal status is a primary concern for most of them. Since the adoption of new regulations by the Lebanese government in January 2015, UNHCR is not allowed anymore to register new refugees. Moreover the conditions imposed to those who are already registered, to renew their permit are so stringent that most of them are unable to do it.
This situation has led to a significant deterioration in terms of protection of the refugees. With their illegal status they are constantly facing the risk of arrest. This limits their movement and directly affects their access to basic services delivered by UN agencies, INGOs and even, Lebanese institutions. It also severely restricts their access to the labour market. The access to education for Syrian children is another major concern for Syrian families. In addition to the overall challenging environment that directly affect Syrian children’s access to school, inequalities between Syrian and Lebanese children persist, especially after the recent introduction of French curriculum in the public Lebanese schools, which makes it inaccessible for Syrian children, who do not speak the language. Moreover, there is a huge gap in education and training opportunities for the Syrian refugee children aged 14-18 years old.
In this challenging context, Syrian NGOs and grassroots initiatives that have direct access to the communities and well positioned to assess their needs, have limited capacities to operate. This is mainly due to the restrictions imposed by the Lebanese authorities for the registration of NGOs managed by and/ or employing Syrians. Most of them have not had access so far, to direct funding from mainstream donors. Even the best-established and more “well-funded” Syrian NGOs face great challenges in terms of sustainability while they have mainly received short-term supports. The growing difficulties faced by Syrian NGOs based in Lebanon over the last year have led to a massive exile of young Syrian activists to Europe or Turkey. Around 70% of the Syrian civil activists, who were involved in NGOs in Lebanon, would have left the country since the beginning of 2015
“The majority of Syrian refugees there do have the ambition to take responsibility for their own life but they face a lot of barriers. Therefore, there is a unique room for the international community to address that energy, the determination and commitment of the communities to empower themselves - not only to go and receive food and medication through UN agencies or others. “ – said Jerzy Pomianowski, EED Executive Director.
Read Deutsche Welle interview with Jerzy Pomianowski, EED Executive Director
Find out more about the EED supported initiatives in Syria and Lebanon.