UN refugee agency chief says help Lebanon's most vulnerable
The United Nations refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi urges the international community to support the most vulnerable citizens as well as Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
The United Nations refugee agency chief called Saturday for continuous support for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and vulnerable Lebanese citizens, amid a collapsing economy in the country.
"We must stand with Lebanon," UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said after his three-day visit to Beirut came to an end.
Sustained support for Lebanon was needed "now more than ever... both to support Lebanese in need and the hundreds of thousands of refugees that they have generously hosted for so many years," Grandi said in a statement, urging the international community to assist the country in "one of its hardest moments" especially since Lebanon hosts "one of the largest refugee populations per capita in the world".
Lebanon has been since late 2019 in the throes of an economic crisis dubbed by the World Bank as among the top 10 worst economic crises in the world since the mid-nineteenth century. With the absence of any solution on the horizon that would get it out of a reluctant reality, it is dealing an especially heavy blow to vulnerable communities, including refugees.
After the war on Syria began in 2011, hundreds of thousands of Syrians fled to Lebanon.
Authorities say Lebanon hosts some two million Syrian refugees, while about 830,000 are registered with the UN.
Grandi met during his visit with officials including caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati "to discuss how to better support vulnerable Lebanese and refugees", according to the statement.
Lebanese authorities have long pushed for Syrian refugees to go back to Syria and have made several repatriation efforts. Still, some Western-funded NGOs try to brand this return as allegedly "forced".
"The government reiterated its urgent appeal for an end to the refugee crisis," Grandi said, adding that UNHCR was working towards this goal "despite the complex and challenging situation".