Created by UN member states to care for the world's refugees, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began work in 1951 and established its first office in Lebanon in 1964. For most of its five decades in Lebanon, UNHCR's operations were relatively modest, centered on helping a few thousand refugees and asylum seekers annually from elsewhere in the Middle East and from Africa. Then the crisis in neighboring Syria erupted in early 2011, initially sending tens of thousands and later hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing across the border into Lebanon. Today, more than a million Syrians have sought safety in Lebanon, placing enormous pressure on the country and its people.
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