Lebanon last year witnessed a random increase in makeshift camps for Syrian refugees which significantly impacts agriculture and increases the risk of water contamination, the ministry of environment reported Monday.

The 2015 study on the impact of Syrian migrants on Lebanon's environment to assess the priorities for intervention warned that the "number of unofficial camps and their geographical distribution soared up from 1,069 in April 2014 to 5,082 in December 2015," a nearly 80 percent increase.

The study expected further heights in 2016, sounding the alarm that the number of refugees in those unofficial makeshift camps increased from 160,894 in 2014 to 194,290 in 2015.

It warned that the camps are infringing on agricultural lands and halting their production, as well as increasing the risk of water contamination due to the higher level of discharged wastewater and disposal of garbage. Floods are at higher risk due to the clogging of waterways and riverbanks from accumulated trash. Refugees' heating needs are also not being met because of haphazard deforestation.

The 2015 study, which was prepared in cooperation with the European Union and the U.N. development program in Lebanon, said that the fragile host communities will increase from 45 to 251 in 2016.

The number of Syrian refugees is also expected to reach 1.8 million by the end of 2016, the study reported.

Earlier this month, the environment ministry said that it would resume the study launched in September 2014.

Since the war in neighboring Syria erupted in 2011, over 1.1 million Syrians have been registered with the U.N. refugee agency in Lebanon, but the number is thought to be much higher. This massive influx of refugees means that Syrians double and triple the number of residents in certain areas.

Source & Link: The Daily Star