UNHCR opens new registration center for Syrian refugees in Lebanon

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees opened a new registration center in Tyre, southern Lebanon, on Tuesday (April 9), bigger than the former center existing in Sidon, in a move to reduce the delay in registering Syrian refugees.

The United Nations says there are nearly 1.3 million Syrian refugees and almost four million more people displaced inside Syria by the two-year conflict. According to UNHCR, more than 400,000 refugees are registered in Lebanon.

As the agency unveiled the new center, the United Nations announced it would halt food aid to the 400,000 Syrian refugees in the country in May unless it receives urgent new funding.

UNHCR representative in Lebanon Ninette Kelley warned the situation was becoming unsustainable.

“We are being asked to do more and more with less and less, we simply don’t have the resources that we need in order to provide the assistance that’s so desperately needed by the refugees and the help to the hosting communities who so badly needed it. And that’s an important message today, we are only 40% funded and the numbers continue to grow so UNHCR and our other U.N. partners and our NGOs, we are having to make very difficult choices between equally compelling needs,” she said.

The United Nations says that so far only $400 million has actually been committed out of more than $1.5 billion pledged by international donors in late January to cover Syrian refugee needs for the first six months of this year, and the Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said he was discussing further steps with local communities.

“We are concerned at the shortage of resources as the United Nations tries to do more here in the south to help the local communities, the problem is increased across the country, we now have more than 400,000 refugees registered or seeking registration in Lebanon, but there is an increasing number here in the south and that’s why we’ve opened this registration center here in Tyre, and why we’re discussing with local communities what more can be done,” Derek Plumbly said.

The new center in Tyre, now the only one in southern Lebanon, registers about 100 Syrian refugee families per day since its unofficial opening some days ago. UNHCR said its capacity should be quadrupled by the beginning of next May.