Hariri Says 'More Needed from Int'l Community' as 2018 Refugee Plan Launched
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, together with the U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Philippe Lazzarini and Social Affairs Minister Pierre Bou Assi on Thursday launched the 2018 update of the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) 2017-2020 at the Grand Serail.
The Government of Lebanon and its national and international partners appealed for USD 2.68 billion to provide critical humanitarian assistance as well as invest in Lebanon’s public infrastructure, services and local economy.
“As we are entering the 8th year of the Syria conflict, Lebanon remains at the very forefront of this crisis. This unfortunately continues to have a profound humanitarian, socio-economic, security and political impact on Lebanon and its people. Also, the country continues to host the highest number of refugees per capita in the world which is placing unprecedented strain on the country’s infrastructure and public services,” Lazzarini said.
He hailed Lebanon and the Lebanese for having shown “an outstanding solidarity with their Syrian neighbors.”
Lazzarini added: “Also, the international community has supported Lebanon generously. In 2017, the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan received more than 1 billion dollars, making Lebanon the second-best funded response in the world – and this impressive international mobilization has enabled us to implement a multifaceted response serving both refugees and host communities.”
Noting that “much has been achieved,” the U.N. official pointed out that “this has not been enough to reverse the tide of growing needs and deepening vulnerabilities across the country.”
He warned that the situation is gradually eroding and humanitarian and development needs are growing: “76% of Syrian refugee households live below the poverty line and more than 50% of Syrian households live in extreme poverty.”
“And we should not forget that 1.5 million Lebanese live below the poverty line,” Lazzarini added.
“These are not just numbers and statistics, but human beings suffering daily. These people have names and faces, they have shattered dreams and fears – and they have hopes and dreams, - just like the rest of us. Among them, Riad Dibo, a Syrian refugee, father of 4 children who immolated himself in front of UNHCR office in Tripoli few weeks ago. This out of despair after he was dropped from the list of refugees eligible for assistance. Riad’s action was a direct consequence of the limited resources available. In these difficult times, agencies are forced to make impossible decisions to prioritize among those who need critical assistance,” Lazzarini went on to say.
He added: “Today we are launching the 2018 Lebanon Crisis Response Plan which is our key plan to support Lebanon overcome its challenges. The plan targets vulnerable Lebanese as well as Syrian and Palestine refugees. The Lebanon Crisis Response Plan appeals for USD 2.68 billion and focuses on integrated and innovative humanitarian and stabilization interventions. It brings lifesaving assistance to families, while supporting the delivery of public services all over Lebanon.”
Hariri meanwhile noted that Lebanon “has shown hospitality like no other country.”
“We are a small country, four and a half million people, four and a half million Lebanese who had the compassion, who had the honor to host those refugees and we will keep on doing that because we believe in human rights, we believe in humanity, we believe that those Syrian refugees ought to go back home one day soon,” the premier said.
He added: “A lot has been said about the return of the refugees. My government's position is very clear, nobody is going to force anyone to go back if they do not want to go back.”
“We will respect international law, we believe they should go back as soon as the conditions are right, we will work with the U.N. for that because it is the right thing to do,” the PM said.
“I want to thank all the donors but I have to say that we need more from the international community... The international community has a responsibility towards these refugees and this responsibility has to be shown every year until this conflict is resolved,” Hariri stressed.