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Lebanon to launch refugee crisis response plan

The Daily Star – United Nations and Lebanese officials are meeting Monday to launch the 2015-16 Lebanon Crisis Response Plan to deal with the more than 1.2 million Syrian refugees the country is hosting.

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas and Ross Mountain, the U.N. resident coordinator in Lebanon, will discuss the plan at a meeting held at the Grand Serail in Downtown Beirut under the auspices of Prime Minister Tammam Salam and in the presence of U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson.

Derbas said the plan aimed to raise 37 percent of the total financial support from donor states who have pledged to help Lebanon restore economic stability.

“This financial equation was based from the road map that had been prepared by the government for the financial needs of the Lebanese people, and to provide financial support to the sectors of education, health, electricity and others,” Derbas told local daily An-Nahar in remarks published Monday.

He warned of the consequences if the U.N.’s World Food Program suspended food aid for Syrian refugees.

“The government has been able to secure financial support from Saudi Arabia to cover the expenses of the food supply for Syrian refugees for December,” Derbas said.

A lack of funds forced the U.N. to briefly stop providing food vouchers for 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt earlier this month.

However, a 72-hour fundraising campaign raised the needed funds for December, the WFP announced last week.

Lebanon hosts around 1.2 million registered Syrian refugees, but unofficial figures are much higher. Their presence is putting enormous pressure on the country’s ailing infrastructure.

Mountain highlighted the burden the refugee crisis is placing on the Lebanese, saying more aid must directed toward the needs of Lebanon in a column for The Daily Star Monday.

“We need to invest more toward Lebanon’s own needs,” he wrote, “to ensure that it can survive this period and recover its prosperity in the medium term.”

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