British Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi called for urgent international support to Lebanon and Syrian refugees here.

According to a statement by the UNHCR, Grandi said following a joint visit to the Bekaa valley in east Lebanon that “the humanitarian situation for Syrian refugees in Lebanon remains very serious”, Xinhua news agency reported.

“They are stretched to breaking point. The international community needs to redouble its support to Lebanon during this critical time and share responsibility for refugees and host communities,” Grandi said.

Grandi made his remarks during a stop at an informal settlement in Taalabaya, central Bekaa, where the delegation met with refugee families who spoke about their worries and concerns.

The settlement, which hosts nearly 60 families, is one of 1,500 informal settlements in the area where UNHCR provides winter assistance including shelter kits and cash.

The delegation also discussed the needs of the Lebanese education system with Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh during a visit to Taalabaya Intermediate Public School where 600 Syrian students are enrolled in the morning and afternoon shifts.

For her part, Patel said: “UK has delivered on the promises we made last year, reaching hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and refugees — now it is essential that the international community and hosting governments alike step up with the funding and reforms needed to complete the ambitious agenda agreed in London.”

Lebanon has been at the forefront of one of the worst humanitarian crises worldwide. The country’s population has grown by 28 per cent in less than five years with a ratio of one refugee to every four Lebanese.

The government of Lebanon and its national and international partners last month appealed for $2.8 billion to provide critical humanitarian assistance and protection as well as invest in Lebanon’s public infrastructure, services and local economy in 2017.

First Published | 5 February 2017 8:36 AM
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