Beirut, April 27, 2018 – Cities and other urban spaces in Lebanon are at the forefront of dealing with refugee influx, bringing with it opportunities but also tremendous pressure on community wellbeing, key infrastructures, services and the economy. New research from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and IMPACT Initiatives highlights significant implications for refugees, host communities and governments alike.
Urban environments in Lebanon are characterized by a complex web and hierarchy of actors where different communities co-exist and create overlapping networks of economic interaction and service use. In this context, a traditional humanitarian approach solely providing for the basic physical necessities is not sufficient, as it fails. A to consider the intricacies and implications of the refugee crisis on the wellbeing of both the newcomers and host communities. Decision makers and humanitarian actors need to take into account available resources, needs and priorities of populations in need of assistance and frame their response around them.
Speaking at the workshop in Beirut where the results of the research were presented to practitioners and researchers on the ground, the Research Director Dolf te Lintelo from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) argued that ‘wellbeing’ should be at the forefront of aid organizations and governments plans when it comes to designing their humanitarian response. “Wellbeing offers a common measure that can take account of both refugees and hosts, and that allows current challenges related to shelter, legal documentation, and access to livelihoods to be addressed in a holistic manner, instead of fragmented efforts that often leave gaps or reduce effectiveness.”
Cities and other urban areas in Lebanon are often overcrowded and lack public spaces such as parks and street markets where every day interactions between different community groups could be fostered. According to the research, this leaves little space for positive inter-communal relations to form, and instead keeps the focus in the competition for housing, services and livelihoods. “Instead of focusing on the ‘drivers of tensions’ in the refugee hosting communities, there is a clear need for the analysis of positive factors that could promote relationship building and peaceful dynamics in the densely built-up urban contexts.”
The research “Wellbeing of hosts and refugees in urban areas in Lebanon and Jordan” was conducted from April 2017 to April 2018 by reviewing existing academic literature and policy documentation, through stakeholder interviews, through the compilation of filmed urban community interviews for a participatory video, as well as analysis of primary datasets. It highlighted how significant challenges faced by displaced communities in Lebanon and Jordan to access shelter, legal documentation, and livelihoods have diverse effects on wellbeing for both displaced and hosting populations. All of these have serious consequences for living a safe and dignified life.
For further information or to request an interview please contact ACTED Country Director Ms. Hart Ford; firstname.lastname@example.org; +961 76-421616 – IDS Research Fellow Dr Dolf te Lintelo, email@example.com +441273915767