The multiple crises facing Lebanon – economic collapse, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Beirut explosion and the protracted refugee crisis – have thrust the country into uncertainty. Vulnerabilities have significantly increased among all populations, impacting children’s basic rights and physical and mental well-being. An estimated 1.6 million people, including 541,000 vulnerable children, are facing multiple deprivations. 1
UNICEF will prioritize increasing access to basic social services, including comprehensive primary health care, safe drinking water, sanitation, child protection and gender-based violence services, as well as social protection and quality education and training for children, adolescents and youth. UNICEF will also pursue longer-term system strengthening and sustainable solutions, while mainstreaming gender and inclusion, protection from sexual exploitation and abuse, and COVID-19 prevention, mitigation and response measures across its interventions.
UNICEF requires US$94 million to support vulnerable children and families affected by the complex crisis and its secondary impacts.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis since the civil war. High levels of inflation, layoffs, pay cuts and currency devaluation, exacerbated by COVID-19 and the Beirut explosion, are threatening the livelihoods and well-being of the most vulnerable people, including Lebanese and migrant workers. An estimated 1.6 million people, including 541,000 children, are facing multiple deprivations. 6
Food prices have increased 300 per cent in just one year 8 and over 60 per cent of Lebanesehave reduced their food consumption, putting children at heightened risk of malnutrition. Currently, only 13 per cent of children aged 6 to 23 months are eating the minimum adequate diet for complementary feeding.
In times of instability and uncertainty, children's physical and mental health are at increased risk due to heightened stress and anxiety. Before the crisis, 6 per cent of Lebanese children were working; 4 per cent were married; and 57 per cent experienced violent disciplineThe numbers are expected to rise further as additional families fall below the extreme poverty line.
Economic deterioration is threatening the delivery of and access to quality basic services, including water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, education and specialized services for disabled children. The already underfunded public sector is overstretched, as increasing numbers of people no longer able to afford private services shift to the public sector. After an initially successful response to COVID-19, the number of cases skyrocketed, particularly after the Beirut explosion on 4 August, putting additional pressure on the health system. The water establishments responsible for providing water and wastewater services have been unable to collect user fees, which is threatening service provision.
The economic crisis and COVID-19 are threatening access to learning for children and adolescents and leaving youth unemployed. The port explosion damaged 90 public and 73 private primary schools and 20 public technical and vocational education and training institutions.Remote and blended learning are presenting additional obstacles for the most vulnerable who lack access to digital tools and connectivity. Meanwhile, children with special needs lack access to specialized support, including psychotherapy and speech therapy. Specialized public institutions remain unfunded.
Overcrowded housing conditions in locations where populations are unable to pay rent or are displaced due to the Beirut explosion have raised the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Community and household tensions are are also giving rise to sexual and gender-based violence, with women and children particularly affected.