IRD began working in Lebanon in 2006, providing assistance to poor rural households in the south affected by the July War. Since then, our work has expanded to encompass resilience assistance to refugees from Palestine, Iraq, and Syria, as well as Lebanese host communities supporting large refugee populations. The estimated 1.3 million refugees in Lebanon comprise more than 25 percent of the country’s total population. IRD Lebanon’s programs help maintain the country’s stability in the face of the increased refugee burden on host communities. Assistance encompasses a variety of legal assistance services, health systems strengthening, vocational training, and job placement.

With support from UNHCR and the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM), IRD Lebanon works through a partner network of 650 Lebanese businesses that provide job training and employment opportunities, local refugee registration and birth registration authorities, and the Ministry of Public Health. IRD Lebanon also work with UNICEF and the World Health Organization to bolster public health services in communities hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees.


Entrepreneurship for Refugees in Lebanon (EfR): The number of Iraqi refugees in Lebanon spiked after the 2003 war, and currently number 30,000–100,000. The crisis in Syria has led to an influx of twice-displaced Iraqis, those who fled from Iraq to Syria and who have now been forced to flee their adopted homes. Supported by BPRM, EfR aimed to improve the resilience of vulnerable Iraqi refugees. The program developed relationships with Lebanese businesses in a variety of fields who offered vocational training to Iraqi refugees and who then sponsored successful graduates for paid apprenticeships, providing them with a secure income to support their families while reducing the load on the strained public support services of the Lebanese government. The vocational training focused on skills that responded to market needs – in Lebanon as well as in third countries where many of the refugees will eventually resettle. Businesses that host apprentices received a modest business development grant and salary subsidies for the first three months of the apprenticeship. More than 2,100 Iraqis completed vocational training with more than 80 percent being offered employment following their training.

Securing legal refugee status, visas, and work permits were among the legal and protection services EfR offered. Legalizing refugee status in Lebanon allows individuals to build their own support systems. Lebanon’s dynamic political environment can make navigating the legal networks challenging. With support from BPRM, close to 1,000 Iraqis renewed their visas and work permits, and over 2,000 Iraqi families received psychosocial counseling and information on refugee rights. IRD will continue to provide protection and livelihood support to Iraqi refugees in Lebanon in 2015 under the PRM program.

Protective Support to Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (PSSR): Due to its strong ties to Syria, Lebanon has maintained an open-border policy for Syrians fleeing conflict. By the end of 2013, 1 million refugees had registered with UNHCR, equal to nearly one-quarter of Lebanon’s total population, and many expect the number to reach 1.5 million by the end of 2014. Lebanon’s public structures were weak prior to the Syrian conflict, and the open-border policy has further strained this capacity.

PSSR provides legal assistance and support for Syrians in Lebanon as well as works with local Lebanese municipalities on small-scale community improvement projects needed to alleviate the strain the refugees place on public systems. Birth registration, marriage registration and legal protection services, including protection from gender-based violence are provided by a legal team in Akkar and Tripoli. In the first half of 2014, over 2000 Syrian refugees have benefitted from legal services and over 150 births have been registered. In areas surrounding Tripoli, the project funds community support projects such as construction or repair of school classrooms in areas with a significant refugee population. PSSR also funds additional solid waste removal services in municipalities strained by refugee populations. Supporting local municipalities in these ways helps dissipate resentment host communities may harbor toward refugees.

Instrument for Stability (IfS): The Ministry of Public Health in Lebanon has noted a 40 percent increase in the use of its health and social programs since early 2013. The influx of refugees has contributed to this increased demand, which has created a shortage of health workers, including specialists and nurses, and possibly compromised access to and quality of healthcare for Lebanese citizens and refugees alike. Working with the Ministry of Public Health and IRD, UNHCR started IfS in April 2014 to improve delivery of basic health services while providing clear support to public structures in Lebanon, thus reducing tensions while bridging humanitarian aid and development assistance. IRD works with UNHCR and the MoPH to engage and deploy health professionals and support staff in public hospitals and clinics throughout Lebanon. Selected public hospitals and laboratories will be refurbished and upgraded with infrastructure improvements and equipment purchases.

IRD’s Lebanon programs are made possible with funding from the US Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).


Emergency Relief and Employment Project

In September 2006, the Department for International Development (DfID), the UK g... more

Entrepreneurship for Refugees Program in Lebanon

Iraqis have fled conflict in their own country to live in many other nations in the... more

Success Stories

IRD’s Legal Support Gives Freedom to an Iraqi Refugee

Haidar, 32, fled Iraq in 2004 and came to Lebanon in the hope of being resettled to... more

Vocational Training Provides a Cultural Bridge between Communities

The Entrepreneurship for Refugees (EfR) program is putting Iraqis to work in Lebano... more

Refugee Newborn Syrians Get Birth Certificates

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, UNHCR has registered 948,000... more

From Detention to Legal Status and Job Placement

When life in Iraq became very insecure, Mohannad, 34, sought refuge in Lebanon in 2... more

A Father Finds Stability and Security

LEBANON – Makardig Mardirousian, 47, came to Lebanon from Iraq in October 2009 with... more

Lebanon Emergency Relief and Employment Program

In September 2006, the Department for International Development (DfID), the UK gove... more

Legalization: Sweet as Chocolate

Hamzah Hameed Abed Khalife, 31, entered Lebanon illegally in 2005 from Iraq... more

Helping Refugees Navigate Life in Lebanon

Samer Ali Jasem came to IRD in October 2009 to register himself for the Entrepreneu... more

Vocational Training for Iraqis in Lebanon

IRD’s Entrepreneurship for Refugees Program offers Iraqi men living in Leba... more

IRD Provides Farming Equipment in Southern Lebanon

Wehbe Darwish is Moukhtar, or mayor, of Al-Bayyad, a village of 1,200 people in cen... more

Training for a Better Career Through the Community

The waiting list for the Saydoun Vocational Training Center in Tyre is more than 10... more

Cash for Work Repairs Damage, Provides Income in Southern Lebanon

Atef Selman is head of the municipal council of Al-Bayyad, a village in the hills o... more

Students in Lebanon Prepare for Their Graduation

The waiting list for the Saydoun Vocational Training Center in Tyre is more than 10... more

Small Business Grants to Build Back Better

The bombing in Zabqine began last August, and the small supply shop owned by Hussei... more