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Lebanon: ICRC presses ahead with effort to aid Syrian refugees

17-05-2013 Operational Update

Refugees from the fighting in Syria continue to stream into Lebanon. The ICRC is determined to do its part in the effort to help them.

The humanitarian impact of more than two years of conflict in Syria has been devastating. More than a million Syrians and Palestinians from Syria have fled their homes to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, including Lebanon. Most refugees were able to bring virtually nothing with them as they crossed the border. They now need shelter, food, clean water and medical care.

As the conflict escalates, hundreds of Syrians are still crossing the border every day. The crisis stemming from the mounting numbers of refugees is putting increasing pressure on host countries and local communities.

"While the main thrust of the ICRC's response to the humanitarian needs arising from the conflict is taking place inside Syria, which has become the site of our organization's largest operation in the world in budgetary terms, the ICRC also wants to contribute effectively to the effort to help refugees in neighbouring countries," said Jürg Montani, head of the ICRC delegation in Lebanon. "We have the flexibility to be able to step in when and where others cannot, at least in terms of providing emergency aid."

The ICRC, together with the Lebanese Red Cross, its main national partner, continues to respond to the needs of those fleeing the conflict. The ICRC's role consists in reinforcing the humanitarian assistance already being provided for over 440,000 refugees from Syria by the Lebanese government, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and their partners.

In addition to helping the Lebanese Red Cross emergency medical services care for Syrian casualties, the ICRC has provided medical assistance for hundreds of wounded Syrians and distributed basic essentials such as mattresses, blankets, cooking utensils and hygiene items, and sometimes food and other aid, to thousands of refugees arriving in Lebanon, including Palestinians who fled camps in Syria.

Between January and April, the ICRC:

  • covered the cost of treatment for more than 300 patients with weapon-related injuries;
  • provided 132 hospital personnel in northern Lebanon with training in triage methods used in mass casualty situations;
  • provided eight medical facilities with medical supplies benefiting more than 570 patients in Tripoli and Ein el Hilweh refugee camp;
  • distributed assistance to more than 10,000 refugees from Syria, including more than 6,600 Palestinians. Lebanese nationals previously living in Syria who had to flee the conflict also benefited;
  • helped the Lebanese Red Cross transfer 506 Syrian casualties to Lebanese hospitals;
  • provided financial support for the Lebanese Red Cross blood bank, enabling it to respond to the increased demand for blood resulting from the Syria crisis;
  • helped restore contact between family members, including detainees and their loved ones, separated from one another by the border;
  • continued to work with the authorities to ensure that they respect the principle of non-refoulement.

The ICRC is also initiating a programme of support for public water systems in areas where the infrastructure has been placed under tremendous pressure by the influx of refugees.

For further information, please contact:
Samar El Kadi, ICRC Beirut, tel: +961 70 153 928
Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 23 or +41 79 447 37 26


Syrian refugees in a camp in Tyre, southern Lebanon. 

Tyre, southern Lebanon.
Syrian refugees in a camp.
© Reuters / A. Hashisho

A Syrian refugee waits her turn to collect water in Sidon, southern Lebanon. 

Sidon, southern Lebanon.
A Syrian refugee waits her turn to collect water.
© Reuters / A. Hashisho

A mother and son, refugees from Syria, in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon. 

Bekaa valley, Lebanon.
A mother and son, refugees from Syria.
© Reuters / J. Saidi

Lebanese Red Cross personnel move a wounded Syrian refugee into an ambulance in the Shebaa region, Lebanon. 

Shebaa region, Lebanon.
Lebanese Red Cross personnel move a wounded Syrian refugee into an ambulance.
© Reuters / K. Daher