UN refugee chief urges support for Lebanon as risk grows that Syria conflict could cross borders

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A Syrian girl in a makeshift Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. [UNHCR photo]

An alarm has been sounded about the massive support needed for refugees and for the countries and communities hosting them.

The call comes from UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres as he kicked off a visit to the region to mark World Refugee Day by meeting with leaders and refugees in Lebanon on Tuesday. He noted that the long-feared spillover of the Syrian crisis into neighboring countries is becoming a "harsh reality" that must be addressed "to prevent the flames of war from spreading across the Middle East."

Mr. Guterres told reporters in Beirut that the pressure on local communities is overwhelming. He said "Lebanon is a small country with a big heart", adding "There is not a village, city or town in Lebanon that is not hosting Syrian refugees".

Amid worsening violence, the number of Syrians fleeing to Lebanon is projected to reach well over one million by the end of 2013.

High Commissioner Gutteres said "Lebanon and other neighboring countries need massive support so that they can continue to receive and help so many refugees and preserve stability", adding "It is very important to support humanitarian organizations. But it is just as important to directly support the government, the relevant Ministries and local communities.

Presenting the largest ever humanitarian funding plan for Lebanon, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Mr. Guterres appealed to a room full of international donors for $1.7 billion dollars that will be required for Lebanon.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’21″

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