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Syrian refugees in Lebanon: “New community” in Lebanon’s confessional political system

Lilit Harutyunyan

vol. XI(1)

Pages 5-19

Abstract: The paper analyzes the Syrian refugee crisis in neighboring countries, mostly in Lebanon. Syria’s neighborhood hosts currently about 5.5 million forcibly displaced Syrians who have fled the crisis since its onset in 2011. More than 3.4 million Syrians are registered in Turkey and around 2 million in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt (World Bank 2016). According to the UNHCR (2017), the small Lebanese state hosts today around 1.5 million registered Syrians, making it the country with the highest number of refugees per capita (Yasmin 2022). How has Lebanon’s political system dealt with the Syrian refugee issue and how have Syrian refugees – a new “non-core group”(Harris 2012) in Lebanon’s society – interacted with the state’s confessional configuration of power? How has Lebanon’s political system framed and accommodated an external “minority” in the context of a refugee-producing conflict and how has the political discourse constructed the issue of large-scale displacement?

The conflict in Syria between the government of Bashar al-Assad and various other forces, which started in the spring of 2011, continues to cause displacement within the country and across the region. At the end of 2018, Syrians continued to be the largest forcibly displaced population, with 13.0 million people living in displacement, including 6,654,000 refugees, 6,184,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and 140,000 asylum seekers (Ferris, Kiris ci, Shaikh 2013; UN OCHA 2016).

Keywords: Syrian refugees, Lebanon, migration policy, integration, confessional political system, displaced persons

Lilit Harutyunyan
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