With the largest refugee population per capita in the world, Lebanon now officially hosts at least 1.1 million Syrian refugees. Until late 2014, the Lebanese government maintained de facto open borders and little to no regulation of Syrians within its borders. This period has largely been understood as one of state absence: referred to broadly as a “policy of no-policy.” This paper looks at the way in which state inaction played a major role in structuring the responses that did emerge, both “below” and “above” the state, from local authorities and international agencies. I shed light on how indirect measures taken by the central government facilitated and encouraged greater local autonomy in governing the refugee presence. This, in turn, further decentralized and fragmented the current set of responses to the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon and legitimized discretionary action by municipal authorities.