Theses Master's

Prioritization and Framing of NGOs Working with Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Sukkari, Tanya

The Syrian civil war has forcibly displaced approximately 13 million Syrians since 2011. Approximately 1.5 million Syrians live in Lebanon, a country experiencing a series of overlapping political, economic, and social crises. Syrian refugees in Lebanon face various discriminatory policies which prevent them from accessing legal status, housing, healthcare, and employment. In the absence of government protection, UN agencies alongside international and national NGOs have responded to the Syrian refugees’ needs through providing basic humanitarian services and education and development programs. Consequently, NGOs play a large role in advocating for the rights of Syrian refugees on domestic and international platforms in the face of the government’s hostile policies and justification through negative representations.

This study examines how NGOs prioritize and frame their work to address the needs of Syrian refugees in Lebanon through a content and framing analysis of reports produced by international and domestic NGOs and interviews with staff from NGOs working on issues faced by Syrians in Lebanon. The literature review provides an overview of relevant scholarship on the humanitarian context, framing of refugees, and NGO prioritization and challenges in Lebanon. This study provides findings on prioritization, framing tactics and challenges of human rights and advocacy organizations, UNHCR, and community-based service organizations.

This study outlines the impact of issue frames, providing system-based recommendations and garnering public support by advocacy organizations. It examines the responsibility of and challenges faced by UNHCR to respond to the refugees’ needs and challenge hostile policies. The study includes three case studies of community-based direct service organizations who navigate the complex funding landscape to ensure program priorities arise from impacted communities, challenges they face within the funding landscape and provides recommendations on how refugees and host communities can be centered in prioritization and framing.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Abu El-Haj, Thea Renda
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
March 8, 2023