EU to Unveil Economic Aid for Lebanon to Stop Refugee Flows

Syrian refugees prepare to leave Lebanon toward Syrian territory through the Wadi Hamid crossing in Arsal on Oct. 26, 2022. (Getty Images/AFP)
Syrian refugees prepare to leave Lebanon toward Syrian territory through the Wadi Hamid crossing in Arsal on Oct. 26, 2022. (Getty Images/AFP)
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EU to Unveil Economic Aid for Lebanon to Stop Refugee Flows

Syrian refugees prepare to leave Lebanon toward Syrian territory through the Wadi Hamid crossing in Arsal on Oct. 26, 2022. (Getty Images/AFP)
Syrian refugees prepare to leave Lebanon toward Syrian territory through the Wadi Hamid crossing in Arsal on Oct. 26, 2022. (Getty Images/AFP)

The European Union will reportedly offer economic aid for Lebanon close to one billion euros to stop the flow of Syrian refugees, dpa news agency said on Thursday.
The economic package will be used to bolster health, educational and social services in Lebanon, according to EU officials.
Special funds will also be allocated to provide assistance to the security forces and Lebanon’s army to help them combat human smuggling, and to implement economic and financial reforms.
The European Union will offer the aid when the head of the bloc’s executive and the Cypriot president jointly visit Beirut on Thursday, a Cypriot official said on Tuesday.
EU member Cyprus has grown increasingly concerned at a sharp increase in the number of Syrian refugees making their way to the Mediterranean island. Lebanon, a mere 100 miles (185 km) away from Cyprus, hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.
“The President of the European Commission will present an economic aid package for Lebanon,” Cypriot government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis said in a statement.
President Ursula von der Leyen, due in Cyprus on Wednesday, would jointly travel to Beirut with the Cypriot President, Nikos Christodoulides on Thursday morning.
Discussions would focus on challenges Lebanon presently faces and stability reforms it needs, Letymbiotis said.
“The implementation of this (package) was at the initiative of President Christodoulides and the Republic of Cyprus and is practical proof of the active role the EU can play in our region,” Letymbiotis said.
Lebanon, in the throes of an economic meltdown since 2019, has not enacted most of the reforms required by the International Monetary Fund to get access to its funding, but has asked friendly countries to continue backing it.
Some Lebanese officials have used the growing presence of migrants and refugees in the country as a bargaining chip, threatening to stop intercepting migrant boats destined for Europe unless Lebanon received more economic support.
Cyprus took in more than 2,000 Syrians who arrived by sea in the first quarter of this year, compared to just 78 in the same period of last year. Earlier this month, it took the unprecedented step of dispatching patrol vessels to international waters off Lebanon to discourage crossings and said it was suspending the processing of asylum applications from Syrians.



High Risk of Famine Persists Across Gaza, Global Hunger Monitor Says 

Men and children search through debris in the yard of the Asma school run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), in the Shati camp for Palestinian refugees west of Gaza City, in the aftermath of overnight Israeli bombardment on June 25, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Men and children search through debris in the yard of the Asma school run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), in the Shati camp for Palestinian refugees west of Gaza City, in the aftermath of overnight Israeli bombardment on June 25, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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High Risk of Famine Persists Across Gaza, Global Hunger Monitor Says 

Men and children search through debris in the yard of the Asma school run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), in the Shati camp for Palestinian refugees west of Gaza City, in the aftermath of overnight Israeli bombardment on June 25, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Men and children search through debris in the yard of the Asma school run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), in the Shati camp for Palestinian refugees west of Gaza City, in the aftermath of overnight Israeli bombardment on June 25, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

A high risk of famine persists across the whole of the Gaza Strip as long as conflict between Israel and Hamas continues and humanitarian access remains restricted, a global hunger monitor said on Tuesday.

Over 495,000 people, or more than one fifth of Gaza's population, are facing the most severe, catastrophic level of food insecurity, said an update from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

The IPC said increased deliveries of food and nutrition services to northern Gaza in March and April appeared to have reduced the severity of hunger in the area, where the UN-backed body had previously projected that famine was likely.

But Israel's offensive around the southern city of Rafah from early May and other hostilities and displacement have led to a renewed deterioration in recent weeks, it added.

"The humanitarian space in the Gaza Strip continues to shrink and the ability to safely deliver assistance to populations is dwindling. The recent trajectory is negative and highly unstable," the report said.

The Rafah offensive led to the closure of the crossing on Gaza's border with Egypt, which had been a main route for the delivery of food and other supplies, as well as an evacuation point for civilians who were critically ill or injured.

This factor, along with disruptions at the nearby Israeli crossing of Kerem Shalom, reduced humanitarian access to two million people in southern Gaza, the IPC said.

Within Gaza, displacement to areas with less water and fewer health services "increases the risk of disease outbreaks, which would have catastrophic effects on the nutritional and health status of large segments of the population", it said.

Israel's military campaign in Gaza was launched after Hamas-led fighters raided southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

The Israeli response has killed almost 37,600 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, leaving Gaza in ruins and repeatedly displacing much of its population within the blockaded coastal territory.