UN: 9 out of 10 Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Live in Extreme Poverty

In 2021, the United Nations says 9 out of 10 Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in extreme poverty. Inflation has sent food prices skyrocketing in Lebanon, making food one of the hardest things for refugees to meet.

Syrian Refugee
Portrait of Syrian refugees in Lebanon living in extreme poverty. (Reuters/Mohamed Azakir)

ACTNews, LEBANON – Lebanon’s compounded socioeconomic and health crisis has hit the most vulnerable Lebanese and refugee families the hardest. The preliminary findings of the 2021 Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (VASyR) reveal a dire situation, with nine out of ten Syrian refugees still living in extreme poverty. 

In a report released on Friday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme, and the Children's Fund (Unicef) warned that 89 percent of Syrian refugee families in Lebanon are struggling to fulfill their most basic needs, compared with 55 percent the year before.

In 2021, the vast majority of refugees continued to resort to negative coping strategies to survive, such as begging, borrowing money, not sending their children to school, reducing health expenses, or not paying rent. The survey indicates that, in 2021, more family members took poorly paid jobs, high-risk jobs, or extra shifts to make the same income the household made in 2020. 

“Over the last 18 months, the Lebanese currency lost more than 85 percent of its value. Prices have skyrocketed, and mere survival has become out of reach for Syrian refugee families. The crisis will have a long-term impact on refugees’ well-being and the future of their children and is threatening past gains such as access to essential services,” stressed Ayaki Ito, UNHCR Representative in the country.


Inflation impacted food prices significantly. Between October 2019 and June 2021, the cost of food increased by 404 percent, resulting in worrisome food insecurity levels among Syrian refugee families. In June 2021, 49 percent of Syrian refugee families were food insecure. About two-thirds of the families had to limit food portion sizes or reduce the number of meals consumed per day.

“This has been a tough year for everyone in Lebanon. We have seen food prices slip out of reach for many families,” said Abdallah AlWardat, WFP Representative and Country Director in Lebanon. 

Finding a dignified and safe shelter continues to be a struggle, with almost 60 percent of Syrian refugee families living in dangerous, substandard, or overcrowded shelters. The study shows an increase in the average rent in all shelter types and all governorates and an increase in the risk of eviction.[]