'Bleak milestone' as Lebanon takes millionth Syrian refugee

Apr 3, 2014

Lebanon is struggling to cope with more than a million refugees from the civil war in Syria


LEBANON is now home to more than a million refugees from the civil war in Syria, the UN says, and their presence is placing a huge burden on an already unstable country.

The UN's High Commission for Refugees described the statistic as a "bleak milestone" and said Lebanon now had the "highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide".

More than 2.5 million Syrians have fled into neighbouring countries, including Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt, since the conflict erupted in 2011, but Lebanon has taken "the biggest burden of all", the BBC reports.

Syrian refugees now make up a quarter of Lebanon's resident population, Al Jazeera says.

According to the UN refugee agency [UNHCR], 2,500 new Syrian refugees are registered every day in Lebanon, and the influx is placing serious strain on what was already a fragile economy. Families are struggling as wages continue to fall and public spending increases.

In April 2012, Lebanon had 18,000 Syrian refugees. That figure rose to 365,000 in April last year, before accelerating towards the million mark.

Antonio Guterres, head of the UNHCR, said: "For Lebanon, a small nation beset by internal difficulties, the impact is staggering."

And there is little help on the horizon. The UNHCR says it has been granted just 14 per cent of the $6.5bn (£4bn) it says it needs to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis.

Just over 150,000 Syrians have died since the start of the conflict according to new figures released yesterday by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Daily Telegraph reports.

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