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 16, 2014

The Daily Star - U.N. seek $2.14B for refugees, December 16, 2014

Samya Kullab

Stabilizing Lebanon amid a deluge of 1.2 million Syrian refugees was the focus of a joint response plan launched Monday which highlighted support for host communities and public institutions. The government and the United Nations are asking the international community for a record $2.14 billion in funds to finance next year’s refugee response plan, which uniquely emphasizes investing in Lebanese services, communities and institutions, reaching 2.9 million people in the poorest parts of the country.

On hand to launch the plan alongside Prime Minister Tammam Salam was United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson.

“[The plan] is meant to draw the contours of what needs to be done to mitigate the negative effects of the multifaceted and protracted crisis we have been suffering from as a result of the events in Syria,” Salam said, addressing a gathering of government representatives, U.N. officials and civil society at the event, held at the Grand Serail.

“Despite unified expressions of concern over the unavoidable security consequences of this situation and the threats it poses for the stability of the country and beyond, few practical measures have been effectively decided upon by the international community to defuse these threats,” Salam said, exempting Saudi Arabia’s $3 billion grant to support the Lebanese Army.

The prime minister expressed hope that the plan would serve as a road map enabling donors to focus their funding on key government sectors and communities affected by the influx of Syrian refugees. “New concerns with extremist attacks and terrorism are intensifying.”

“There is no doubt that worsening socioeconomic parameters are a catalyst, drawing greater numbers of desperate young people into the illusory and paradoxical realm of finding hope in violence.”

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said the adoption of the plan by the Cabinet was the outcome of lengthy deliberation by the Crisis Cell, headed by Salam.

Eliasson said the “innovative” plan was designed to reinforce stability while directing resources to vulnerable areas and institutions. “The plan promotes priorities for stabilization identified by the government,” he said. “It will put in place arrangements for the government to lead the response. It clearly reflects government priorities, consistent with internationally recognized norms.”

The response will continue to deliver humanitarian assistance to displaced Syrians and other vulnerable groups while expanding plans to invest in Lebanese services and institutions. It incorporates three main strategic objectives, including providing basic assistance and protection, strengthening service delivery capacity and reinforcing public institutions.

Last year’s record appeal of $1.89 billion was only 46 percent funded as of early December, prompting concern among NGOs about diminishing funds in the face of growing needs of both refugees and host communities.

Speaking to The Daily Star, UNHCR country representative Ninette Kelly said this year’s response aimed to broaden the scope and reach out to more donors.

“It’s not just a humanitarian appeal,” she said. “Through this plan we are trying to cast the net wider and to attract more support from the development community and donors that bring support to public institutions in a manner that we haven’t been able to do to the extent necessary before.”“There have been significant investments in institutional support,” she said, citing the over $93 million channeled to host communities last year. “These are important investments but they are simply not enough to help Lebanon withstand the very serious shocks that it continues to take as a result of the Syrian crisis.”

Drafting this year’s plan, Kelly added required partners to identify areas specifically designed for stabilization as opposed to those meant to facilitate humanitarian response such as waste and water management which benefits entire communities.

Chronic underfunding last year prompted the UNHCR to make “heart wrenching” cutbacks in education and health care services. “There are many people who are literally scraping to get by, who send their children out to work because they have no other means of support,” she said. “We simply don’t have enough income support to provide to keep them from having to resort to those very desperate measures.”

“In 2015 Lebanon faces delivering electricity, water, waste collection, education and health care services to a population that has grown by a third in just four years,” U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Ross Mountain said. “No country in the world could be expected to manage such a situation on its own – not even the most highly developed.”

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