U.N. to Cut Refugee Aid in Lebanon amid Funding Gaps

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The U.N. refugee agency is to cut food aid to more than a quarter of Syrian refugees in Lebanon starting next month, partly as a result of a massive shortfall in funding.

From October, UNHCR will move to "targeted assistance," as it struggles to assist a refugee population of at least 720,000 people in Lebanon.

"We will have to switch to targeted assistance and cut some of our direct funding in part because of the shortfall in funds," UNHCR spokeswoman Roberta Russo told AFP.

"Our campaign sought $1.7 billion for Lebanon, and that is only 27 percent funded," she added, saying aid agencies were making "difficult decisions" every day about how to use limited aid money.

Russo said a transition from blanket assistance of all refugees to a focus on the most vulnerable was not unusual when dealing with such a crisis.

"At the beginning of the emergency it is normal to give blanket assistance," she said.

"Then once you have a better knowledge of the population, as we do now, we are better able to distinguish between those who are able to survive without assistance and those who really cannot."

But she acknowledged that the decision to cut food assistance, which will affect around 200,000 refugees -- 28 percent of those in Lebanon -- was also driven by the agency's lack of funds.

"If we don't have an increase in funding we will not be able to meet, in general, even the needs of population we have now, not to mention the additional population that could arrive if the fighting intensifies."

There have been fears that the exodus from Syria could pick up if the international community pursues proposed military action against the regime in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on August 21.

A leaflet explaining the decision to cut back assistance warns refugees that "resources are insufficient to assist everybody."

"Therefore, assistance will be limited to those most in need."

Russo stressed that 72 percent of registered refugees will continue to receive food aid, and those considered most vulnerable will also receive health and education services.

The cutbacks reflect the ongoing struggle of the humanitarian aid community to dealing with a flood of Syrian refugees.

Lebanon's government estimates one million Syrians are now taking shelter in the country, which had a population of just four million before the conflict in its larger neighbor began.

The United Nations said earlier this week that more than two million Syrians have fled the conflict that began in March 2011, with an uprising against President Bashar Assad.

Another 4.2 million Syrians are internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

Comments 5
Missing phillipo 05 September 2013, 18:10

UNWRA has millions for the so called "refugees" in Gaza, but when it comes to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, there is no money.
Something really stinks here.

Default-user-icon Bandu Zingaray (Guest) 05 September 2013, 18:14

How about the rich and filthy Saudis and Qataris who brought misery onto these refugees paying the bill?

Thumb benzona 05 September 2013, 21:25

Monsieur, you sound like Jörg Haider or Le Pen.....

I'm not saying you're lying, there is truth in your description. But your solution(s) would probably be hitlerish....

Missing samiam 05 September 2013, 23:48

if I were them (or any other country), I wouldn't give cash, but rather direct aid instead. No way to trust the government in place right now.

and where are russia and china with their aid--they keep saying a political solution is needed and 30 months later, NOTHING. Blood is on their hands too, but they are used to that because between them in their histories, they have taken out over 100 million people and don't think twice about it.

Thumb benzona 06 September 2013, 01:24

le Hizb symbolizes destruction and death, donating and helping non Shias is not something they consider. Allah yirhamak ya Rafic Hariri who helped With his own money dozens of thousands Lebanese students of all sects. Sending them abroad so they return educated and build Lebanon. Bachar, Nasrallah and Aoun destroyed him, destroyed Lebanon, destroyed us.