Beirut, 2 November 2016—UN-Habitat hosted a conference on “Urban Crisis Response” to examine and discuss the plethora of challenges facing Lebanon’s urban population. Under the patronage of the Ministry of Social Affairs, and on the occasion of the World Cities Day 2016, the Conference focused on building a platform for exchange between various stakeholders engaged in urban response.

img_1462Lebanon is faced by increasing urban challenges, accumulating over years due to absence of national urban policies, historical events, external and internal displacements, conflicts and deep poverty amongst parts of the population. The urban crisis was significantly exacerbated post 2011 with an influx of nearly 1.5 million Syrian refugees.

The conference brought together representatives from national and local administration, public institutions, academia, UN agencies, national and international NGOs and civil society to share practces, knowledge, and findings.

“The challenges facing the main cities in Lebanon today, and urban dwellers and refugees, needs to be responded to in a holistic manner with a common understanding and efforts amongst local authorities, stakeholders and partners, in an area-based manner,” said Tarek Osseiran, UN-Habitat Program Manager in an opening speech. UN-Habitat is using the area-based approached to profile Lebanon’s main cities.

The Conference began with a presentation by UN-Habitat of its City Profile on Tripoli, as well as sample Neighborhood Profiles and Strategy with their implementation projects. The City Profile expands upon issues facing the Lebanese population, along with the challenges that accompany the influx of 1.5 Syrian refugees since the Syrian Crisis began in 2005. “What we find very often is that as refugees move into larger cities, they don’t spread evenly, concentrating in specific neighborhoods, impacting the public services in these areas,” commented Dani Harake, the Coordinator of Urban Planning at UN-Habitat.

img_1476The Conference hosted three panels, focusing on “Responding to Displacement in Lebanese Urban Context,””Urban Governance” and “Urban Economy.” Each panel was followed by a Q&A and discussion session.

The conference was part of UN-Habitat city profiling and urban response programme, supported by the Swiss International Cooperation for Development, Cities Alliance, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the Norwegian Embassy of Beirut.