Lebanon has been struggling with economic and political issues for some years, which became more acute in late 2019, creating a situation of overlapping political, economic and financial crises, with worsening conditions compounded by COVID-19 as well the Beirut blast in August 2020.
New microdata from the Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (VASyR) 2020 survey1 shows a loss of income-generating opportunities among the Syrian refugee population compared to 2019, with unemployment rising 8 percentage points to 39 percent.
As a consequence of the pandemic as well as the political, financial and economic crises in Lebanon, extreme poverty increased sharply with 89 percent of Syrian refugee households now living below the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB) compared to 55 percent in 2019.
Moreover, food insecurity has increased to an alarming level, with almost half of the Syrian population severely or moderately food insecure in September 2020, compared to 29 percent in 2019.
UNHCR’s response in Lebanon includes cash-based assistance to refugee households in an effort to provide immediate support for basic needs. In particular, both multi-purpose and food-specific cash transfers are provided to help alleviate some of the worst consequences for vulnerable households in a setting characterized by compounded crises.