There are currently over one million Syrian refugees situated in Lebanon, seriously impacting its society and political system. However, this number does not cover the total amount of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. There are many who have not registered with the UNHCR since the Lebanese government has temporarily suspended new registration of refugees as of May, 2015.
Lebanon needs to design rights based programs that address the numerous problems Syrian refugees face in Lebanon. These programs must help improve refugees’ ability to return home by preserving the strengths and skills they possess.
Typically, in a state with political and economic stability, the state is responsible for creating such programs. Yet, as Lebanon’s situation has become increasingly volatile, municipal actors must have a greater role to play in protecting human rights amongst their constituency. .
ALEF seeks to support local municipalities in addressing the refugee crisis by reducing tension between Syrian refugees and host communities, increasing the availability of resources for Syrian refugees, and raising awareness about the importance of using a rights-based approach in addressing problems common to both local and refugee populations.
In order to put this theory into practice, ALEF worked on a project entitled “Towards Protection – Friendly Local Governance.” The project built the capacity of the municipalities of Roum and Jezzine in human rights, refugee protection policies, conflict prevention and resolution, and engaging Lebanese and Syrian communities in joint development initiatives. This report documents ALEF’s experience and, highlights the main steps it has taken towards achieving change and the various challenges ALEF faced throughout.