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Sympathy wears thin in Lebanon where a quarter of the population is now made up of Syrian refugees

Sympathy for refugees in Lebanon is waning as the country struggles to cope with the influx of refugees from neighbouring war-torn Syria.

There are almost as many Syrian refugees in Europe as there are in Lebanon, with a quarter of the country's population now made up by refugees.

ITV News Middle East Correspondent Geraint Vincent travelled to one refugee camp where homes which were only ever meant to be temporary shelter have now become permanent homes.

A hairdresser in the nearby town told ITV News he thinks the refugees are "a weight we can no longer carry."

Midwinter at the Kabilyas refugee camp in the Bekka valley is very bleak.

The ground has turned to mud and there is little for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who live here to do but stay out of the rain.

Rain has turned the refugee camp to mud Credit: ITV News

Families huddle around their stoves in the dim atmosphere of their tents.

ITV News' Geraint Vincent talks to one refugee family in the camp. Credit: ITV News

For the adults, money is scarce. Casual labour in the town and the surrounding farmland earns only a few dollars a day. For the children, there is no school.

A hairdresser in Kabilyas, Lebanon, talks about the influx of refugees into the country. Credit: ITV News

When they arrived here, most of the camp's residents expected, or perhaps hoped, to be resident in Lebanon for only a few weeks, before they returned home.

For some, this is the fifth winter as a refugee. It's a difficult and dark existence at this time of year, and for a visitor it's easy to see why, from here, a perilous boat ride across the Med might start to look like a good option.

Some 200,000 Syrian refugee children have no school place in Lebanon Credit: ITV News

It is this that the UK aid effort in Lebanon, and indeed Jordan and Turkey, is trying to change.

The UK government has spent over a billion pounds trying to improve the lives of refugees in the countries they entered when they first escaped the war.

This means working on ways to get the refugees working permits in their host countries, and spending money on education systems so space is made in the schools for Syrian children.

The UK has been much criticised for not sharing the burden of providing homes to the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Europe. It has resettled only a handful compared to Germany and the Scandinavian countries.

The temporary shelters have become permanent homes for the refugees. Credit: ITV News

International Development Secretary Justine Greening says the UK government has 'set the pace' in helping refugees in the countries which border Syria.

Some of its European partners might scoff at that, but it's a policy the Department for International Development is sticking to. The plan is to make life in Lebanon as tolerable as possible, so the trip to Europe looks less worth it.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening says the UK has 'set the pace' in helping refugees in countries which border Lebanon. Credit: ITV News

There's a long way to go here, but half of the 400,000 Syrian children in Lebanon are now in school. We will see in the summer whether the effort has had any effect