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This research falls under the “Land management in time of conflicts” topic of the Second Arab Land Conference. It explores the design-implementation-evaluation process of the Occupancy Free-of Charge (OFC) shelter programme of the international humanitarian organizations in the hosting of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Implemented in Lebanon as of 2013, this shelter programme seeks to improve Syrian tenants’ housing physical conditions and tenure security while expanding the supply of affordable housing to meet the market’s needs of both Syrian refugee households and Lebanese property owners. By rehabilitating unfinished Sub-Standards Buildings (SSBs) and Sub-Standards Units (SSUs) of Lebanese landlords (including some Palestinians), the programme offers Syrian refugees a rent free or a rent freeze accommodation, generally for a period of six to twelve months.

The objective of the following paper is to draw upon the key issues, challenges and lessons learned from the implementation of the OFC programme in the Bar Elias locality, Bekaa, Lebanon. Focused on old OFC Syrian beneficiaries’ experience, Syrian households whose OFC agreements have expired or are about to expire, it seeks to understand the programme’s outcomes and limits. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations based on lessons learned from different humanitarian organizations' experience with the OFC programme.

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