When the Syrian war erupted in 2011, the Lebanese government withdrew from managing the influx of Syrian refugees. Three years later, Lebanon’s Council of Ministers set new regulations for Syrians with the purpose of reducing access to territory and persuading refugees to leave the country. This article analyses the reasons for and the outcomes ofLebanon’s response to the refugee crisis before and after 2014. It then examines, through a qualitative exploratory approach and based on two longitudinal case studies, the impact of Lebanese regulations. In both cases, the socalled ‘temporary gatherings’ became permanent settlements beyond the government’s control. The government’s strategy backfired: in attempting to avoid ghettos, it created them. We conclude that when refugee situations become protracted, most efforts aimed at excluding refugees fail. Excluding refugees increases their vulnerability and reduces their chances of repatriation or resettlement. To prevent this, we argue that hosting policies must lead to the temporary integration of refugees within urban systems and public institutions.