Almost seven years into the Syrian crisis, and the outlook for refugees in Lebanon is increasingly precarious, as poor communities across the country continue to suffer as a result of the ongoing conflict. In 2017, a number of reviews/assessments were undertaken and published, ranging from the humanitarian response through to the annual survey of Syrian refugee households in Lebanon, and the Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees (VASyR).
Over 70% of refugees from Syria residing in Lebanon live in poverty, driving negative coping mechanisms such as mounting debt, child labor and early marriage. The vast majority of refugees remain without residency (despite an exemption of fees for some refugees earlier this year) substantially hampering their freedom of movement, access to services, and assistance (UNHCR, UNICEF & WFP, 2016).
Some refugees living in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon have faced eviction orders and have been required to leave their informal settlements or other rented accommodation. Social tensions between host and refugee communities have also risen across Lebanon earlier in 2017. This could be due to the sense of helplessness the Lebanese feel towards their own government. As such, the inability to make changes within their government has pushed them to revolt against who they perceive as their competitors over scarce resources. Within the refugee population, a sense of insecurity and fear of raids, arrest and detention linked to lack of legal stay, lack of access to assistance and decent work to meet basic needs, discrimination and increasing social tensions are all identified by refugees as ‘push factors’ in their consideration about whether to return to Syria before conditions are in place to return voluntarily in safety and dignity.
These protracted displacement and increasing vulnerabilities related to the above mentioned insecurities and to severe living conditions in crowded settlements, further exacerbate the risk of GBV incidences. In Lebanon, women, girls, and boys, especially from the refugee community, are disproportionately affected by GBV including domestic violence (DV). According to ABAAD’s report “Shifting Sands”, women are facing increasing DV as most of the refugee men are unable to fulfill their traditional ‟masculine” roles as heads and protectors of their families, which often results in aggressive behavior towards their families – wives and children, as too often, men are socially only allowed to express polarized feelings: sometimes joy, but most often anger (El-Masri, Harvey & Garwood, 2013).