The Syrian Refugee Crisis in Lebanon

A Syrian Refugee Camp in eastern Lebanon – Photo Credit:

Marissa Palermo, Reporter

With a total population of approximately six million people, nearly 1.5 million residents in Lebanon are Syrian refugees, which is nearly 30 percent of Lebanon’s total population. Due to Lebanon’s weakened economy and inability to care for the large refugee population, almost 70 percent of those refugees live in poverty, and many children do not have access to education.

Traveling to Lebanon in the summer of 2017 to spend a month with family has offered many opportunities to hear different perspectives when it comes to the Syrian refugee crisis. This experience has shown a lot about the seriousness of the refugee situation. In the villages of Derya, Chabtine, and Toula, the total population consists of roughly 3000 people. A significant amount of the population is Syrian refugees who live in the villages’ abandoned houses or work for local businesses where the owners, in turn, provide housing and meals.

According to UNICEF, an estimated five percent of Syrian refugee children over the age of five years old are working, thus not allowing them to attend school. Affordability of education-related costs often prevent these children from attending school, along with the danger of deportation. Because the curriculum is often in the languages of English and French, there is a language barrier for the Syrian children who are not familiar with these languages. Along with cost and language barriers, the availability of space in classrooms makes it difficult for children to attend school. To help the futures of Syrian children residing in Lebanon, leaders of Lebanon have been taking steps to provide more children with education, specifically with the “Reaching All Children with Education” program, launched in 2014, which has succeeded in its initial goals of increasing the number of refugee children in schools. This policy still has more hopes and plans for the future.

Lebanon is one of a few other Middle-Eastern countries that has taken in Syrian refugees. Jordan has taken 1.4 million, including registered and unregistered refugees, while Turkey has taken a total of 1.9 million, more than any other country. The countries of Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia have not welcomed any Syrian refugees, but according to Euronews, these countries have contributed financially. Although many countries around the region have shared the burden, Lebanon’s close proximity to Syria has closely connected the two countries. While the conflict continues, the world will be watching how Lebanon and other countries continue to respond to the refugee crisis.