The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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December 23, 2016

The Daily Star- Refugees top EU priorities in Lebanon: envoy, December 23 , 2016

SAADNAYEL, Lebanon: The European Union’s biggest priority in Lebanon is to assist with the refugee crisis, head of the EU delegation to the country said during a visit to an informal tented settlement for displaced Syrians Thursday. “We came here to see how assistance is reaching refugees,” EU Ambassador Christina Lassen told The Daily Star during the visit to a settlement near the Bekaa Valley town of Saadnayel. “It is our biggest priority to help Lebanon [with the refugee crisis].”
The ambassador visited the informal settlement to meet beneficiary families and check on the progress of the EU assistance.
“In this holiday season, we should not forget that there are so many refugees living in dire conditions and that Lebanon is struggling to keep up with the challenge,” Lassen added, in a statement released following the visit.
Following February’s London conference – an international meeting to address funding challenges and the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis – 350 million euros ($366.7 million) were allocated to addressing the needs of vulnerable communities and Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The commitment brought the EU’s total support since 2012 to over 1 billion euros [$1.05 billion].
“The EU and its member states have mobilized enormous resources to stand by this country and help it preserve ... its fabric from the complex challenges that the refugee crisis has caused,” Lassen said in the statement. But she added that much of that was not directly visible as “a large portion of the money spent by the EU, more than half, is used to improve the Lebanese infrastructure.”
The EU contributed 476 million euros to boost the capacity of Lebanese institutions managing the crisis and providing basic services.
In addition, the EU provided 284 million euros [to fund projects that benefit the Lebanese population across all sectors.
Lassen also added that it was essential to help the most vulnerable Lebanese families affected by the refugee influx and prevent tensions arising between the refugee and the host communities.
During Thursday’s visit, the ambassador sat with several families to discuss the difficulties they are currently experiencing. One family recounted the hardships encountered when seeking medical assistance for the only man in the family who recently fell ill and developed necrosis in his right foot.
Another family, also in need of medical attention, recounted how they were able to buy medication thanks to a nearby pharmacy that allows them to purchase it on credit.
Lassen praised the Lebanese community for its generosity and said she recognized the hardships endured by the Syrian people. “Refugees are increasingly running out of savings and falling into debt,” the ambassador told The Daily Star. “However, I am satisfied with how [assistance] is going and, even though refugees still don’t live in excellent conditions, things are better than when we started.”
In the statement, Lassen asserted that the European Union would continue efforts to support Lebanon and try to step-up assistance.
According to the Josep Zapater, head of UNHCR in Zahle, the EU’s contribution has been fundamental, especially when it comes to providing refugees with cash assistance.
“[Syrian] men are often unable to work and this makes them frustrated and at time leads to domestic violence,” Zapater explained.
“Receiving cash aid helps refugees economically but also psychologically,” he added.
According to data by the UNHCR, in 2015 almost 1.2 million people in Lebanon lived in extreme poverty with less than $2.40 a day, a 75 percent increase since 2014.
In Saadnayel, Lassen also visited children receiving homework assistance as part of combined efforts by UNHCR and UNICEF – the U.N.’s specialist children’s protection agency – to promote education.
According to Zapater, half of the children in the camp are enrolled in formal schools. The figure is encouraging for a region with a high frequency of school dropouts.
According to a report released by Human Rights Watch in July 2016, more than half of the nearly 500,000 school-age Syrian children in Lebanon are not enrolled in school programs.
In the statement, Lassen reaffirmed her solidarity with Syrian families who “have lost almost everything.”
The ambassador also recognized Lebanon’s efforts and said that “we should not forget that there are so many refugees living in dire conditions and that Lebanon is struggling to keep up with the challenge.”

Source & Link : The Daily Star

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