Lebanon looking ahead in times of crisis: Taking stock of the present to urgently build sustainable options for the future | Lebanon

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Since the outbreak of the crisis in Syria in March 2011, Lebanon has felt the impact politically, socially and economically. More than four years into the crisis and with an all-out war on its doorstep, the country is experiencing ever greater repercussions. Lebanon now hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, with one in five inhabitants a refugee. This paper draws on Oxfam's research among refugees and host communities in Lebanon in 2015. It aims to contribute to an urgent discussion of both interim and longer term solutions to address protection issues, living conditions, access to services and reduced aid dependency for refugees
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  OXFAM DISCUSSION PAPERS DECEMBER 2015 Oxfam Discussion Papers   Oxfam Discussion Papers are written to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development and humanitarian policy issues. They are ’work in progress’ documents, and do not necessarily constitute final publications or reflect Oxfam policy positions. The views and recommendations expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Oxfam. www.oxfam.org   LEBANON: LOOKING AHEAD IN TIMES OF CRISIS Taking stock of the present to urgently build sustainable options for the future  An informal refugee settlement in Anfie, north Lebanon, 2013. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam Since the outbreak of the crisis in Syria in March 2011, Lebanon has felt the impact politically, socially and economically. Four-and-a-half years into the crisis and with an all-out war on its doorstep, the country is experiencing ever greater repercussions. Lebanon now hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, with one in five inhabitants a refugee. This paper draws on Oxfam research among refugees and host communities in Lebanon in 2015 and aims to contribute to an urgent discussion of both interim and longer term solutions to address protection issues, living conditions, access to services and reduced aid dependency for refugees; along with stronger social protection, access to services and greater employment opportunities for poor and vulnerable Lebanese.  2 Lebanon looking ahead in times of crisis: Taking stock of the present to urgently build sustainable options for the future CONTENTS Summary  ........................................................................................................... 5    A country in crisis ...................................................................................................... 5  A comprehensive response ....................................................................................... 6 Introduction  .................................................................................................... 10   1 A country in political and economic crisis  ................................................ 11   1.1 The policy of no policy ....................................................................................... 11 1.2 Decentralizing problems: reliance on municipal-level responses ....................... 12 1.3 Economic Impacts  –  reinforcing patterns of inequalities .................................... 14 2 Refugees, displaced, asylum seekers or migrants?  ................................ 15   2.1 The pre-crisis legal framework ........................................................................... 15 2.2 Entry restrictions and legal status ...................................................................... 16 2.3 Refugee perceptions: limited options and increasing desperation ..................... 18 3 Lebanese poor: harsh realities and pushed to the limit  .......................... 24   3.1 Social protection mechanisms for the Lebanese poor........................................ 25 3.3 Purchasing power, debt & vulnerability .............................................................. 26 Conclusion: Policy options and key questions for consideration  ............. 29   Notes....................................................................................................................... 35  Lebanon: looking ahead in times of crisis. Taking stock of the present to urgently build sustainable options for the future 3  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This paper would not have been possible without the support AND contributions of the OXFAM Lebanon team that work tirelessly to improve the lives of vulnerable communities across Lebanon. Oxfam would like to acknowledge the researchers who conducted the three pieces used as evidence for this paper: ã   Merits Partnerships,  Research into Self-Protection and Coping Strategies of Refugees from Syria and Host Communities in Lebanon ã   Nupur Kukrety , independent consultant and Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University Beirut, Poverty , Inequality, and Social Protection in Lebanon ã   Menapolis , Local Governance under Pressure, Research on Social Stability in T5 area, North Lebanon Oxfam would also like to thank George Ghali, ALEF Act for Human Rights, Dr. Carmen Geha,  American University of Beirut, and Nayla Geagea, Independent Human Rights Lawyer for their review of and contributions to the paper of the paper. RESEARCH FOR THIS PAPER This paper draws from programmes, partners and three pieces of research commissioned by Oxfam between March and August 2015. The first is Oxfam’s annual survey of people’s perceptions of protection risks and of the self-protection strategies used by the different groups residing in Lebanon. This is a qualitative study of the findings from 209 semi-structured interviews with Syrian refuges, Palestine refugees from Syria, and Lebanese and Palestinian host communities across Lebanon. It aims to capture changes over time in the protection situation and coping strategies of communities facing shocks, in rural as well as urban areas, across five different regions of the country. Interviewees were asked to describe their daily lives and if and how they have changed over time, the challenges they experienced, and how they were coping with those. The second research focused on poverty, inequality, and social protection in Lebanon, in an effort to gain better insight into the lives and struggles of poor people in Lebanon, as well as the formal and informal support mechanisms accessed by them for their survival. This research is a qualitative study that provides a deeper understanding of the lives of poor households through 33 in-depth interviews and focus group discussions using a participatory research methodology framed by a modified 1 household economy approach (HEA). 2  The third piece of Oxfam research was on social stability in the T5 (El-Koura, Bcharreh, Zgharta and Minieh-Dannieh) region of North Lebanon, where Oxfam has worked with both municipalities and refugee communities. This research project sought to understand the informal and formal power dynamics and governance structures at the local level. It also looked at the impact of the Syria crisis in this area, to understand the basic needs, priorities and concerns of Syrian refugees and host communities and how local actors can manage tensions and foster local development. It was carried out through 12 focus group discussions and 10 interviews with community members and leaders. This paper was conceived and should be read as a tool for dialogue with various stakeholders within Lebanon and internationally to collectively identify options to effectively address the current crisis facing the country. Through this process, Oxfam intends to develop a series of briefings to analyse the key themes in more detail, in line with its programme and partnerships in Lebanon.  4 Lebanon looking ahead in times of crisis: Taking stock of the present to urgently build sustainable options for the future Oxfam in Lebanon In all its country programmes, Oxfam applies a ‘one programme’  approach  –  integrating humanitarian, development and policy initiatives to effect change and address root causes of poverty, suffering and inequality. In the current Lebanese context of existing development and governance challenges as a backdrop to a humanitarian refugee crisis, Oxfam’s  one programme approach aims to respond to the clear need for parallel and complementary humanitarian and development work. Drawing on Oxfam’s global areas of expertise and its overall focus on poverty and inequality, Oxfam in Lebanon focuses on economic justice, humanitarian assistance, women’s rights and gender justice, and active citizenship, with advocacy on all four thematic work streams. For humanitarian programming, this means integrated WASH (drinking water, waste water, sanitation and solid waste management), protection, and multi-sector cash programming as well as improvement in livelihoods for Syrian and where relevant, Palestinian populations. A specific focus on w omen’s rights and ‘safe programming’ are integral to this work. In development programming, Oxfam works with partners to address governance issues, including supporting the provision of basic services to people living in poverty in Lebanon, a crucial complement to any humanitarian assistance to refugee populations  –  in addition to promoting transparent, accountable resource management and equitable wealth distribution. Based on value chain analysis, Oxfam also works to promote small businesses in relevant markets and works with the private sector to create job opportunities for women and youth. With its particular focus on working with women and youth, Oxfam aims to strengthen a rights-based approach to active citizenship at local and national levels. Oxfam has been championing women ’s rights and empowerment in Lebanon for over 10 years. Empowering women through economic engagement to take a stronger role in decision making at home and within communities, and promoting women’s access to  justice are core components of Oxfam’s work.
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