UNHCR stops cash aid to 20,000 Syrian families in Lebanon

Syrian refugee children play on a street in the Palestinian Shatila refugee camp, on the southern outskirts of the Lebanese capital Beirut, on September 1, 2017. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Thursday said it has halted cash assistance to 20,000 Syrian families in Lebanon due to a shortage of international aid. (AFP / ANWAR AMRO)
Updated 15 September 2017

UNHCR stops cash aid to 20,000 Syrian families in Lebanon

BEIRUT: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it has halted cash assistance to 20,000 Syrian families in Lebanon due to a shortage of international aid.
Some 20,000 “more needy” Syrian families will receive cash assistance instead, UNHCR spokeswoman Lisa Abu Khaled told Arab News. “We’re making tough decisions, but we have to deal with limited resources,” she said.
The spokesman for Syrian refugees in Arsal, Lebanon, said about 10,000 of them received text messages from the UNHCR saying they will be removed from its cash assistance program from November.
“This will be a disaster for these families, who are already living under the poverty threshold and have no other resources apart from what they get from the UNHCR,” he told Arab News.
Lebanon’s state minister for refugee affairs, Mouin Merehbi, warned on Thursday that the shortage of international aid will worsen the circumstances of Syrian refugees in his country.
The rise in tensions between them and Lebanese host communities is due to “many factors, including pressure on public services and employment competition,” he told the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Lebanon, Chris Jarvis.
Meanwhile, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report published on Thursday said: “Millions of dollars in aid money pledged to get Syrian refugee children in school last year did not reach them, arrived late, or could not be traced due to poor reporting practices.”
The report noted the lack of transparency in financing the education of Syrian refugees. It said HRW “followed the money trail from the largest donors to education in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, the three countries with the largest number of Syrian refugees, but found large discrepancies between the funds that the various parties said were given and the reported amounts that reached their intended targets in 2016. The lack of timely, transparent funding contributed to the fact that more than 530,000 Syrian schoolchildren in those three countries were still out of school at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.”
The report added: “Donors and host countries have promised that Syrian children will not become a lost generation, but this is exactly what is happening. More transparency in funding would help reveal the needs that aren’t being met so they could be addressed and get children into school.”


Security forces say Lebanon's rioters ‘organized’ as Hariri warns over 'cycle of collapse'

Updated 21 January 2020

Security forces say Lebanon's rioters ‘organized’ as Hariri warns over 'cycle of collapse'

  • Meeting held after three nights of violent confrontation between protestors and the Internal Security Forces
  • Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Lebanon needs to quickly form a new government

BEIRUT: Lebanese security forces claimed demonstrations in the country had been infiltrated by organized groups in order to provoke riots at a meeting with President Michel Aoun at the country’s Presidential Palace on Monday

Security force commanders said the information led them to “take the necessary measures to protect peaceful demonstrators and prevent attacks on public and private properties, while stopping rioters and coordinating with the judiciary to enforce the law.”

The decisions came after three nights of violent confrontation between protestors and the Internal Security Forces (ISF), during which tear gas, smoke grenades and rubber bullets were used, severely wounding civilians and journalists.

Commanders submitted security reports on developments since the start of the protests in November 2019, in which they spoke of “measures taken to face the elements infiltrating the ranks of demonstrators to cause riots.”

Aoun asked for responsibility to be taken in identifying those who could be deemed dangerous for stoking riots, and those protesting peacefully.

Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri did not attend the meeting, instead tweeting: “Lebanon needs to quickly form a new government to stop a cycle of collapse and worsening economic and security conditions.

“Our government resigned in order to transition to a new government dealing with popular changes but obstruction has continued for 90 days and the country is moving towards the unknown,” he said, adding: “The continuation of the caretaker government is not the solution so let’s stop wasting time and have the government bear the responsibility.”

After three months of peaceful demonstrations, the protesters switched to what they have called “revolutionary violence” in light of the continued indifference of the political class towards their demands. For a third successive day on Monday they tried to breach the barriers around parliament, but were repelled by riot police.

The father of a wounded young man called Eid Khodr said his son suffered a fractured skull due to a rubber bullet.

“We protected ourselves, we wore helmets on our heads, facemasks and plastic coats for the water. What more can we do? We wrote ‘press’ on our chests and stood aside and still, they targeted us and shot a rubber bullet into my leg,” journalist Ihab Al-Akdi told Arab News.

Sanaa Al-Sheikh, a 29-year old soccer player who seen defying the security forces and climbing the obstacles and barbed wire surrounding parliament on Saturday, is still being treated in hospital for wounds on her back due to severe beating from police.

Al-Sheikh, from Tripoli, is an accredited referee with the Lebanese Football Association. She has been a sports coach for almost 15 years, holds a law degree, and has a sports academy in Tripoli called “Sanaa Star”.

“The political class has to listen to the people. Someone is trying to shift our attention in the wrong direction. The ISF personnel are our children, just like the demonstrators. Citizens are committing transgressions and nobody can control them but, we cannot compare their transgressions to those of the security forces,” the president of the Beirut Bar Association, Melhem Khalaf, told Arab News.

Calls have emerged on social media platforms, asking Lebanese people living abroad to contact or comment at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil is scheduled to attend.