The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today hailed Paraguay’s adoption of new legislation governing those who have crossed the country’s borders in search of safe haven. “UNHCR welcomes the signing of the law as an important step towards ensuring refugee protection in Paraguay and in advancing harmonization of refugee protection in the region,” UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski told reporters in Geneva. The signing of the National Refugee Law by the Asunciòn authorities makes Paraguay the second of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries after Brazil to pass such legislation. “UNHCR’s Regional Office for South America has worked with the countries in the MERCOSUR region to develop a model refugee law text to promote a common level of refugee protection in the region as a whole,” the spokesman noted. “Paraguay has become the first country in MERCOSUR to pass a refugee law based on this model law text.” Paraguayan President Luis González Macchi signed the National Refugee Law last week, after it was approved by both houses of the National Congress.
“As of the end of June, available resources stood at $1.17 billion, with $828 million disbursed this year and $344 million carried over from last year,” according to a news release issued today by the Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon.Since the beginning of the year, the news release continued, donor support had been translated into important results. These included food assistance to almost 865,000 individuals; enabling 197,000 Lebanese children and 150,000 refugee children to enrol in public schools for the 2015-2016 academic year; the extension of some 86 kilometres of publicly-owned water supply networks, covering 30 municipalities and bringing safe water to some 670,000 individuals; and improvements to municipal solid waste management systems, benefiting more than 350,000 individuals.While the assistance has, so far, remained focused on the short-term emergency response, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Middle Eastern country, Philippe Lazzarini, highlighted in the news release the importance of longer-term support, calling it “crucial to enable partners to plan ahead in other key areas, such as to ensure the continued enrolment of children in the public school system for the 2016/2017 school year and beyond, and to scale up support to municipalities to strengthen service delivery and livelihoods at the local level.”At a recent Security Council meeting, various challenges facing Lebanon were flagged. These include deteriorating security conditions, weakening State institutions and the need for continued dispersal of funding for the refugees hosted by the country. Currently, Lebanon is hosting more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees.In December 2015, the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan was launched, seeking a total of $2.48 billion for 2016 to implement joint programmes by the Government and the international aid community. In February 2016, at the conference on Supporting Syria and the Region in London, the international community pledged more than $12 billion to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of those affected – $6 billion for 2016 and a further $6.1 billion for 2017-2020.