The Syrian conflict has created one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. Over half of the country’s pre-war population — more than 12 million people — have been killed or forced to flee their homes. Families are struggling to survive inside Syria, or make a new home in neighboring countries. Others risked their lives on the way to Europe, hoping to find acceptance and opportunity. Lebanon has suffered from poverty, war and political instability. It is not well equipped to host the largest per capita population of refugees in the world. As of 2018, the total number of registered Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt was more than 5.6 million. However, unofficial numbers are much higher and include more than six million internally displaced people within the country.

There are currently some 488,000 school-aged Syrian refugee children in Lebanon (3-18 years). Syrian parents are worried that their children will spend years without education. But unfortunately, families with children – especially girls – who do not continue their education, resort to negative coping mechanisms such as early marriages or child labor.

Lebanon has been home to Palestinian refugees since 1948. Ever since Palestinians arrived in Lebanon as refugees decades ago, they haven’t received the same rights and resources as Lebanese natives. Without formal citizenship, they have no social, political, or economic liberties. Refugees in Lebanon also have limited job and educational opportunities and endure poor living conditions.

The Government of Lebanon is not a signatory to the 1951 Geneva Convention related to the status of refugees or its 1967 Protocol. Lebanon implements some provisions of the Convention on a voluntary basis and considers that granting the refugee status to individuals lies within its margin of discretion. Yet the government of Lebanon stresses that Lebanon is not a country of Asylum, a final destination of refugees, or a country of resettlement. Accordingly, it generally refers to individuals that fled from Syria since 2011 as ‘displaced’, or as ‘de facto refugees’. Under these circumstances, refugees in Lebanon will not receive the same rights and opportunities as Lebanese people do, conditioning their life.

This work has been done for Anera. American Near East Refugee Aid (Anera) is an American non-governmental organization that provides humanitarian and development aid to the Middle East, specifically, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Jordan. Founded in 1968 in the aftermath of the Six-Day War, Anera initially sought to help the hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians by providing emergency relief. While still providing crisis response, Anera now also addresses the long-term economic and social needs of Palestinians, Lebanese and Jordanians through its health care, education and job creation programs.