'Gross underestimate?' Syrian refugees in Lebanon reach 1M

Syrian refugees wait to register at the UNHCR compound in Tripoli, Lebanon. Photo by: Lynsey Addario / UNHCR

As the number of Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon reached 1 million, the European Union is calling for more solidarity to help the country deal with the situation, while some in the aid community fear the real figure could be much bigger.

“The generosity of Lebanon by keeping its borders open is taking a huge toll on the security of the country as well as creating a huge burden on its people who are often sharing the hardships of their guests,” EU humanitarian aid chief Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement on Friday.

Georgieva highlighted how Brussels has mobilized a total €2.6 billion ($3.56 billion) in aid to Syrian refugees, 26 percent of which has gone to Lebanon — but it’s just not enough to deal with a crisis that threatens its very existence as a country, according to U.N. refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres.

Well-placed sources within the network of European NGOs responding to the Syrian crisis told Devex that the 1 million figure, while official, could in fact be a "gross underestimate" of the actual number of displaced Syrians living in camps in the neighboring country.

According to data from The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the influx of refugees is not dying down but accelerating. Every day, the U.N. agency claims it registers 2,500 new refugees, “more than one person a minute.”

This is on top of the fact that only 21 percent of the $4.26 billion U.N. appeal for the Syrian refugee crisis has been met.

Are you an aid worker in Lebanon? Do you think the country is soon going to find itself at breaking point? Are the latest official data on the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon underestimated? How do humanitarians feel about the steps to respond to this situation? Please let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below, joining our LinkedIn discussion or sending us an email at news@devex.com.

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About the author

  • Richard Jones

    In his role as Editorial Director Richard oversees content for digital series, reports and events, leading a talented team of writers and editors, conducting high-level video interviews and moderating panels at events. Previously partnerships editor and an associate editor at Devex, Richard brings to bear 15 years of experience as an editor in institutional communications, public affairs and international development. Based in Barcelona, his development experience includes stints in the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Ecuador, as well as extensive work travel in Africa and Asia.