Syrian refugees in Lebanon are falling deeper into debt, with 2018 being the worst year yet, as more families marry off children to cope financially, according to a report by the United Nations released on Wednesday.
The study by the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the U.N. children’s fund (UNICEF) stated that the average household debt has increased in the last three years from $800 in 2016 to more than $1,000 in 2018.
The Syrian conflict that erupted in 2011 has generated 5.6 million refugees in the Middle East, with Lebanon hosting more than 950,000 registered refugees, according to UNHCR.
With families struggling to afford food, rent and medicine, child marriage is also on the rise.
Twenty-nine percent of Syrian girls aged between 15 and 19 are married in Lebanon, a number that has been growing, according to the report.
Syrian refugees stand on their balcony at the Ouzai refugee compound in the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon, Dec. 18. A much touted Russian initiative to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees has fizzled out, with the return of only about 114,000 Syrians — out of more than 5 million in the region and Europe. In Lebanon, which hosts the highest ratio of refugees per capita, most of the estimated 1.2 million Syrians say the intend to stay put, citing economic concerns, ongoing fighting and destroyed homes. | AP