Lebanon and the Syrian Refugee Crisis


The paper attempts to outline the main challenges that Syrian refugees are facing today in Lebanon. In order to do so, it (a) investigates the legal structures in place pertaining to foreigners in Lebanon; (b) examines the institutional dynamics pertaining to the application or non-application of said law; (c) surveys the societal response to the refugee crisis, while considering the unique social fabric of Lebanon; and (d) explores the political status quo; i.e. policy makers attitudes towards the refugees issue. Finally, it explores the recent efforts of refoulement from a political and ad hominem perspective. In order to do so, it draws from a wide range of resources such as Lebanese legal texts and commentaries, reports by recognized institutions and organizations active in the field, and articles published by trusted Lebanese media. Based on its findings, the paper concludes that the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is defined by a complex net of dependencies and uncertainties due to an interplay of spheres: (a) a unfavorable legal framework that precludes the legal identity of refugee; (b) an executive and institutional incoherence resulting from non-application of laws and corruption; (c) an ambiguous civil society response, especially in rural areas; (d) and a considerable ambiguity of political leadership, resulting from firstly, the make-up of the current government, and secondly, the municipal/ national government divide.

Author: Julian Vierlinger

Publication Date: 2018

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