Aid a key survival strategy for Syrian refugees in Lebanon


New study shows

-         without much needed humanitarian assistance, refugees in Lebanon face great challenges in meeting basic needs

-         93% of refugees are using some form of debt to cover their basic needs, relying on personal networks and buying food on credit.

Beirut, November 19, 2015

ACTED, CARE International, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, Solidarités International and World Vision today released a comprehensive study highlighting the financial struggle of refugees in Lebanon as they attempt to maintain their daily existence in the face of uncertain access to finance and struggles with debt.

“This study seeks to provide a broader picture of this complex debt and the role this hidden phenomena plays in many Syrian refugees’ lives,” says, Thomas White, Chief of Party, of Lebanon Cash Consortium. “The magnitude of borrowing is reflective of the need, which if not met properly, may exacerbate tension.”

The first of its kind in Lebanon, the study explored the complex debt market which is engaged by refugees in Lebanon to cover the cost of basic needs via a balance between household income and informal loans and food-on-credit arrangements. All require access to funds that many refugees simply do not have.  Almost all refugee households face a the daily challenge of balancing limited income and aid with multiple streams of small debt, including purchase of food on credit.

“It is a clear sign of the incredible difficulties refugees have to make ends meet. Giving cash to the most vulnerable families is a dignified and very efficient way to help the most vulnerable cover their basic needs," says Massimiliano Mangia, head of office in Lebanon for the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO).

"But because of the protracted nature of the Syria crisis, the vulnerability of refugees is increasing and humanitarian funds are also overstretched.  It is vital that longer term donors step in to support such assistance and extend it as much as possible to poor Lebanese families as well. 

If we want to really have an impact on refugees’ lives, we should also address the legal difficulties they face, with increasingly restrictive regulations when it comes to their legal right to stay, civil documentation and access to work”.

The study highlights that decreased food assistance and changes in cash programming could have serious consequences for refugee households who will potentially lose their ability to pay for daily and monthly expenditures.

This could lead to refugees ending up in further debt or losing their ability to access credit, forcing them to take desperate actions to support themselves and their families.

Notes for editors:

With funding in 2015 from DFID and ECHO, the Lebanon Cash Consortium (LCC) brings together six leading international NGOs to deliver multi-purpose cash assistance to socio-economically vulnerable refugee households living in Lebanon. Members of the LCC are Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, ACTED, CARE International, Solidarités and World Vision International. The LCC assistance has been recently topped up by donors hence reaching more than 52,000 socio-economically vulnerable refugees.

For further information, please contact:

World Vision: Patricia Mouamar, tel: +961 3 002 267, email:

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