Syrian Refugee Density in Lebanon

July 10, 2014

(This article was first published on More or Less Numbers, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

I've done a few posts on Syria and have used data provided by the UNHCR for different analysis or visualization.  There are several links on their Syrian refugee data portal that communicate the breadth of this crisis numerically and visually.

One such link had the locations of settlements in Lebanon and the number of people in each settlement.  This information is undoubtedly helpful for coordinating the location of services within camps and in general tracking how they grow.  I was interested in seeing the growth of these camps, where and during what time periods the most growth is seen.

Below is a map of the country (or most of it) showing where all the tents are located that have been documented by the UNHCR.  Overlaid is a density plot communicating the concentration of structures (tents) with the number of people housed per structure.

The concentration of settlements has clearly been just outside of a town called Zahle.  If we look more closely at Zahle we can more clearly see the number of people per tent in this settlement.  On average across Lebanon there are over 6 people per tent based on this UNHCR dataset, some as high as 12.

If looked at year by year, we can see how during different years this area was settled more heavily.  2013 was a year where a significant amount of tents were constructed or setup.  

No doubt this data is being used to coordinate the location of different public facilities such as clinics, etc.  Data such as this provided by UNHCR serves burgeoning communities with much needed information in how to setup a town or "plan" for how this settlement could be organized or mitigated differently.  The code for this data and graphs, or at least most of it is available on my Github account.  

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