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Renewed support essential as Syrian conflict continues to impede Lebanon's social and economic growth

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Govt. Lebanon
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Context and key challenges

Eight years into the Syrian crisis, Lebanon remains at the forefront of one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time and has shown exceptional commitment and solidarity to people displaced by the conflict in Syria. As of October 2018, the Government of Lebanon (GoL) estimates that the country hosts 1.5 million Syrians who have fled the conflict in Syria (including 950,3341 registered as refugees with UNHCR, of which 25.2% are women, 19.4% men, 27.1% are girls, 28.3% are boys with diverse backgrounds and specific needs), along with 28,800 Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) and a preexisting population of an estimated 180,000 Palestinian refugees from Lebanon (PRL) living in 12 camps and 156 gatherings. The vulnerabilities of each of these groups have different root causes, requiring the overall response strategy to include a multifaceted range of interventions, from emergency aid to development assistance. Nearly half of the Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian populations affected by the crisis are children and adolescents. Up to 1.4 million children under 18 years of age are currently growing up at risk, deprived, and with acute needs for basic services and protection. Public services are overstretched, with demand exceeding the capacity of institutions and infrastructure to meet needs.

The conflict in Syria has significantly impacted Lebanon’s social and economic growth, caused deepening poverty and humanitarian needs, and exacerbated pre-existing development constraints in the country. Moreover, at the end of 2015, the crisis had cost the Lebanese economy an estimated US$18.15 billion due to the economic slowdown, loss in fiscal revenues and additional pressure on public services.

Unemployment and high levels of informal labour were already a serious problem pre-crisis, with the World Bank suggesting that the Lebanese economy would need to create six times as many jobs just to absorb the regular market entrants. Unemployment is particularly high in some of the country’s poorest localities: in some areas, it is nearly double the national average, placing considerable strain on host communities. Both Lebanese and displaced Syrians perceive that longstanding inequalities are deepening, and competition for jobs and access to resources and services remain drivers of tension at the local level. The economic downturn has had a disproportionate effect on young people entering the workforce: Lebanon’s youth unemployment rate is 37 per cent, compared with a 25 per cent national average.

Relations between displaced Syrians and host communities are relatively stable, with no major incidents of intercommunal violence. Municipal measures have been imposed in some municipalities, making host community-displaced community interactions more challenging.iv At the community level, displaced Syrians and Lebanese are also interacting less often – especially in social circles where daily and regular interactions are down 10 per cent from May 2017 to June 2018.

The assistance made possible by donor contributions and implemented by humanitarian and development partners under the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP), along with the exceptional hospitality of Lebanese communities, has brought substantial, vitally-needed support across all sectors and has prevented an even greater deterioration of living conditions for the poorest groups. Since 2013, a total of $6.39 billion has been received in support of the crisis response, including $4.5 billion under the current 2017-2020 LCRP.9 Achievements under the LCRP and through the government include: support to Lebanese infrastructure such as roads, water and waste management; a wide range of initiatives helping local municipalities implement priority projects for their communities; extensive cash assistance bringing life-saving support to the poorest groups while boosting the local economy; support to health centres and hospitals around the country; a better understanding of affected populations’ views and priorities to inform sector interventions; and substantial advances in helping the Government of Lebanon enrol greater numbers of children in public schools every year. However, despite these achievements, the needs are growing and continue to outstrip resources, and renewed support is essential. The prolonged crisis is having an ever-stronger impact on Syrian, Palestinian and vulnerable Lebanese households, as well as on Lebanese host populations and the country’s institutions and infrastructure.
The LCRP, a joint plan between the Government of Lebanon and its international and national partners, aims to respond to these challenges in a holistic, comprehensive manner through longer-term, multi-year planning to achieve the following strategic objectives: ensure the protection of displaced Syrians, vulnerable Lebanese and Palestinian refugees; provide immediate assistance to vulnerable populations; support service provision through national systems; and reinforce Lebanon’s economic, social and environmental stability.

To achieve these strategic objectives, the LCRP is committed to respond to the needs identified by the affected communities, government and its partners, and to strengthen communication and transparency by ensuring information from response actors is accessible and uses appropriate channels. It seeks to set out an integrated response centred on needs which recognizes the interrelatedness and beneficial impact of the activities undertaken in the various sectors on the individual’s protection and dignity. It is critical that the response maintains a strong focus on ensuring access to humanitarian assistance to all vulnerable communities and continued protection in Lebanon. In line with the commitments made at the London, and Brussels conferences, the response strongly and continuously seeks to expand investments, partnerships and delivery models that ensure recovery, and social stability whilst working towards longer-term development strategies and durable solutions. In Lebanon, the main durable solution for displaced Syrians is their safe, dignified and non-coercive return to their country of origin, in accordance with international law and the principle of non-refoulement. Another durable solution is the resettlement of those displaced from Syria to a third country. The international partners recognize that the stay of displaced people in Lebanon is temporary, and commit to continue to provide support to both host community and the displaced Syrians.

The LCRP also aims to increase the focus on aid coordination under the general leadership, guidance and supervision of the Government of Lebanon, through the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) which hasthe legal mandate to oversee the response to the crisis, in partnership with the donor community, UN agencies, civil society actors including NGOs, the private sector, and academic institutions. In addition, the LCRP strives to promote transparency, enhanced coordination, tracking, accountability, efficiency and learning, through reinforced and objective monitoring and evaluation. As a medium-term plan, the LCRP aims to address national objectives and priorities to respond to the impact of the Syrian crisis in Lebanon through an overarching four-year strategic planning framework developed and implemented under the leadership of MoSA in collaboration with the UN, national and international NGOs, other civil society actors and the donor community.

It is essential for the international community to strengthen its international cooperation with, and development support to, Lebanon to respond to the protracted displacement from Syria. This is in line with the shared responsibility of the international community to manage large movements of refugees that was acknowledged by all states in the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants of September 2016vii and its Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), as well as in Lebanon’s Statement of Intent presented at the 2016 London Conferenceviii and “A Vision for Stabilization and Development in Lebanon”ix presented at the Brussels Conferences in 2017 and 2018 respectively. One of the LCRP partners’ key priorities in Lebanon is helping to mobilize increased financial resources to support the country’s national institutions and strengthen public service delivery systems, as a critical way to meet growing needs, mitigate a further deterioration of the situation, and preserve social stability

The LCRP is founded on needs-based, bottom-up and cross-sectoral approaches and, as such, requires adaptation as changes in experiences and context occur. Yearly appeals are developed based on an annual review of needs. Each document includes detailed targets and budgets for the current year, along with indicative figures for the following year where feasible. The current document therefore outlines the updated sector response plans for 2019, based on results achieved within the LCRP in 2017 and 2018, and an analysis of remaining gaps for 2019 and 2020.