Lebanon is grappling with economic and financial meltdown, COVID-19, the disastrous impact of the Beirut Port explosions and continued impact of the Syrian crisis. In addition, political deadlock fuels popular protests and hampers meaningful reform and recovery efforts. In this context, the situation of ordinary people in Lebanon is worsening day by day.
Since October 2019, when the crisis began, the Lebanese Pound has lost more than 90 per cent of its value, leading to a year-on-year inflation of 120 per cent between May 2020 and May 2021. Food prices increased at a staggering 400 per cent between January and December 2020. Revised food survival and minimum expenditure basket (SMEB) recorded a 21 per cent increase between March and April 2021. The overall cost is 4 times higher than at the start of the crisis.
At the end of 2020, 19 per cent of Lebanese nationals reported the loss of their main sources of income.
Assessments indicate unemployment among migrants was up to 50 per cent, with significant job losses in final quarter of 2020.
Government-led interventions have proven unable to address the root causes and mitigate the impact of the ongoing crisis on the population. Amid growing scarcity, an ever-increasing number of families have found themselves unable to afford or access limited basic goods and services, including food, health, education, electricity, water and hygiene items. Negative coping mechanisms have also been increasingly reported. Families struggle for their bare survival while facing the mental stress of uncertainty and lack of hope in a better future. Fast-increasing multi-sector needs have been documented within Lebanese and migrant communities - indicators suggest that the most vulnerable households have crossed emergency thresholds and require emergency assistance.
In view of such continued and accelerated deterioration, under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) and the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), with the support of OCHA, the UN and NGOs have developed the below 12-month coordinated multi-sectoral Emergency Response Plan (ERP) to address the needs of the most vulnerable among the Lebanese and migrants affected by the crisis, in complement to the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) as the framework to address the impact of the Syria crisis in Lebanon.
The ERP is strictly of humanitarian nature. It calls for exceptional time-bound assistance to save lives and alleviate suffering of the target population, also aiming to avoid a worsening of inter- and intra- community tensions.
The activities covered will protect the most vulnerable until interventions aiming to address the root causes of vulnerabilities can be implemented. As such, the ERP does not represent a long-term solution to the on-going crisis. Such a solution will only come from structural reforms and Government-led development interventions, including the implementation of a full-fledged comprehensive and inclusive Government-led social protection strategy. Whenever possible this document articulates the sequencing between planned humanitarian interventions and recovery activities
The multiple crises afflicting Lebanon have led to a severe deterioration in people’s standard of living. Basic rights are being denied as people are unable to afford or access basic goods and services including health, food, education, electricity, water and wastewater management.
Extreme poverty - also known as “food poverty” - increased three-fold from 2019 to 2020, rising from 8 per cent to 23 per cent. Meanwhile GDP is estimated to have fallen by 20.3 per cent in 2020.
In March 2021, 78 per cent of the Lebanese population (3 million people) was estimated to be in poverty. Extreme poverty has reached an estimated 36 per cent of the Lebanese population (1.38 million). In parallel, according to the 2020 Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (VASyR), 89 per cent of Syrian refugee families (nine out of ten) live in extreme poverty, increasing from 55 per cent only a year before, with even worse conditions for female-headed households. As the situation continues to deteriorate, an even greater number of people is falling into absolute poverty and food insecurity.
In parallel, the situation has affected the availability of basic services such as fuel, electricity, healthcare and clean water, most of which were previously provided through the private sector. With the economic crisis, an increasing number of individuals are seeking to access such services in the public sector, which is already overstretched and underdeveloped due to years of under- investment.
Humanitarian needs are increasing among Lebanese and migrants across all sectors, including food security and nutrition, health, protection, education and WASH. The situation also threatens to trigger a substantial increase in irregular migration of all population groups via dangerous maritime routes, predominantly to Cyprus. An increase in departure rates has already been noted, with frequent incidents observed in 2020 and 2021.
In addition to a significant increase in competition over employment, intra-communal tensions within Lebanese communities have worsened due to the shortage of basic essential goods and services. Tensions between host communities and refugees have similarly increased.
Reports indicate growing forced evictions and occurrences of refugees being denied access to shops selling subsidized goods or having to pay for basic goods at increased prices, among other discriminatory measures. Overall, increasing tensions and sporadic violence have diminished the operational space for humanitarian actors who face an increasing number of access challenges.
If the situation remains the same and reforms are not implemented, with the gradual lifting of subsidies and deepening of the crisis, the potential for further deterioration and social tensions will continue to increase. Such a trend will ultimately further increase the number of people in need of acute humanitarian assistance.