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Atlas of Lebanon

Part 2 - Population and migration

The Influx of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Fabrice Balanche et Éric Verdeil

Texte intégral

1The arrival of more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon constitutes a demographic, economic and social upheaval for Lebanon. Two thirds of them have settled in the North and the Bekaa Valley. Forming a younger population, refugees outgrow the resident population in many localities. They live in very precarious conditions, even though only 20% of them settle in camps.

A spatial and demographic upheaval

2Upon request from the Lebanese government, the UNHCR has suspended new registration since May 2015: producing precise estimates regarding the number of refugees has thus become difficult. The inflow of Syrian refugees in Lebanon intensified in early 2013. A peak of nearly 1.2 million individuals registered by the UNHCR was reached in 2015. In addition, many newcomers were not registered even then (about 200,000) and it is estimated that 200,000 Syrian citizens were already living in Lebanon in early 2011. This chronology reflects the intensification of fighting in Syria. Refugees mostly come from the central parts of the country, especially those affected by the fights, from Daraa to Aleppo, the suburbs of Damascus, the Qalamoun region, Homs and Idlib.

Figure II-9: Evolution in the number of Syrian refugees

Figure II-9: Evolution in the number of Syrian refugees

3The main settlement areas in Lebanon are the central part of the Bekaa Valley, the Anti-Lebanon Mountains (Aarsal), the Akkar and Beirut’s suburbs. However, the refugees gradually settle across the whole territory, including in the South, although they are still fewer than the Palestinians which have been residing in the area since 1948. In the central part of the Bekaa Valley, the number of refugees exceeds that of the Lebanese residents. This results in a major spatial and social upheaval, the population growing by 30% on average and up to 100% in some localities.

4The rationales behind destination choices vary: while some of the wealthiest settle in Beirut, most refugees chose their places of settlement based on the location of family members already installed in the country or work connections, as in the Bekaa Valley and the Akkar, which are areas marked by seasonal agricultural labor. A preference for predominantly Sunni areas is noticeable, as hinted at in the map of their geographical presence in the Akkar, but no systematic feature of communal regrouping has been observed.

Figure II-10: Population distribution in Lebanon

Figure II-10: Population distribution in Lebanon

Figure II-11: The settlement of Syrian refugees in the Akkar region

Figure II-11: The settlement of Syrian refugees in the Akkar region

Housing

5Refugees settle in very precarious conditions. At the end of 2014, about 60% of them lived in apartments or permanent houses and 40% in camps, garages, warehouses, construction sites, etc. As the situation lingers on, paying the rent becomes increasingly difficult. Three quarters of the families are forced to live with other households and endure overcrowding and promiscuity.

6The camps, mostly small, are located mainly in the Bekaa Valley and the Akkar, where networks had already been built by seasonal migrants who had been coming in these regions on a regular basis. In coordination with the municipalities, NGOs and international organizations install basic sanitary facilities. When available, the power supply is illegally set up. Domestic fires are common.

Figure II-12: Housing

Figure II-12: Housing

Figure II-13: Refugee camps

Figure II-13: Refugee camps

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure II-9: Evolution in the number of Syrian refugees
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13226/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 27k
Titre Figure II-10: Population distribution in Lebanon
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13226/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 71k
Titre Figure II-11: The settlement of Syrian refugees in the Akkar region
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13226/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 103k
Titre Figure II-12: Housing
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13226/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 83k
Titre Figure II-13: Refugee camps
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13226/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 80k

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