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Responding to Lebanon's Syrian Refugee Crisis

Philippe Lazzarini, Deputy United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon

Moderated by Randa Slim, Director for Track II Initiatives at the Middle East Institute and Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute, Johns Hopkins SAIS

June 24, 2016

The international community must do more to support Lebanon as it struggles with a large influx of Syrian refugees, according to Philippe Lazzarini of the United Nations. Refugees now account for a staggering one-third of the population in Lebanon, and the resulting economic stress represents a threat to stability in Lebanon and the region. Lazzarini pointed to the country's sluggish economy which has left many Lebanese citizens jobless and anxious about their future. Lazzarini implored the international community to extend financial and institutional support to Lebanon with a broad focus on stabilization, peace and security, and combating pre-existing institutional weakness.

Addressing questions from the audience, Lazzarini commented on the need to scale adequate education and employment opportunities and offered his predictions for Lebanon in the near future. He stressed the need for comprehensive international and domestic strategies to address security, infrastructure, and strengthening of its public institutions. Furthermore, he advocated that in order for policymakers to ensure lasting and useful solutions they must look beyond a mere political solution in Syria, and assume that the refugees will be in Lebanon for the long term.