Context and key challenges
Six years into the Syrian conflict, 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 war in Syria. As of October 2016, the Government of Lebanon (GoL) estimates that the country hosts 1.5 million Syrians who have fled the conflict in Syria (including 1.017 million registered as refugees with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), along with 31,502 Palestine Refugees from Syria, 35,000 Lebanese returnees, and a pre-existing population of more than 277,985 Palestine Refugees in Lebanon. 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 those affected by the crisis are children and adolescents: at least 1.4 million children under 18, including Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, 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 service sectors are also overburdened, with the public health sector accumulating debt as Syrian patients are unable to cover their part of the bill.
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. The World Bank estimates that Lebanon has incurred losses of US$ 13.1 billion since 2012, of which US$ 5.6 billion pertains to 2015 alone.
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. Longstanding inequalities are deepening and tensions at local level have been noted, mostly over perceived competition for jobs and access to resources and services. The economic downturn has had a disproportionate effect on young people and others who are entering the workforce: Lebanon’s youth unemployment rates are three to four times higher than the overall unemployment rate.
The assistance made possible by donor contributions and implemented by aid partners under the 2015-2016 Lebanon Crisis Reponse Plan (LCRP), along with the exceptional hospitality of Lebanese communities, has brought substantial, vitally-needed support across all sectors, preventing an even worse deterioration of living conditions for the poorest groups. Achievements under the LCRP include support to Lebanese road, water and waste infrastructure; a wide range of initiatives helping local municipalities implement priority projects for their communities; extensive cash assistance that has brought life-saving support to the poorest groups while boosting the local economy; support to health centres and hospitals around the country; and substantial advances in helping the GoL enroll greater numbers of vulnerable children in schools every year. However, despite the achievements of the response, growing needs 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 Lebanon’s institutions and infrastructure.
The LCRP, a joint plan between the GoL and its international and national partners, aims to respond to these challenges in a holistic, comprehensive manner through longer-term, multi-year planning in order to achieve the following Strategic Objectives: ensure the protection of displaced Syrians, vulnerable Lebanese and Palestine Refugees; provide immediate assistance to vulnerable populations; strengthen the capacity of national and local service delivery systems to expand access to and quality of basic public services; and reinforce Lebanon’s economic, social and environmental stability. It is critical that the response maintain a strong focus on humanitarian assistance to all vulnerable communities, but also in line with the commitments made at the London Conference in 2016, strongly and continuously seek to expand investments, partnerships and delivery models that ensure recovery and enable progress towards longer-term development strategies.
The LCRP also aims to increase the focus on aid coordination with and through government and nongovernment structures including UN agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), the private sector and academic institutions, to promote transparency, enhanced coordination, tracking, accountability as well as objective monitoring and evaluation.
It is essential for the international community to strengthen its international cooperation with, and development support to Lebanon to respond to the mass influx of the displaced from Syria. This is in line with the shared responsibility to manage large movements of refugees that was acknowledged by all governments in the New York Declaration of September 2016, and Lebanon’s Statement of Intent at the London Conference. One of the LCRP partners’ key priorities in Lebanon is helping to mobilize increased financial resources to support the country’s national institutions, as a critical way to meet growing needs and mitigate a further deterioration of the situation.
Thus, this medium-term planning aims to address national objectives and priorities for responding to the impact of the Syrian crisis in Lebanon through an overarching four-year strategic planning framework developed and implemented in collaboration with the UN, national and international NGOs, and donors. The LCRP is based on needs, and as such requires adaptation as changes in the context occur. Yearly appeals will be developed based on an annual review of needs: each document will include detailed targets and budgets for the current year, along with indicative figures for the following year where feasible.