Lebanon’s unprecedented economic and financial crisis has pushed individuals and families towards extreme vulnerabilities. People can no longer afford basic commodities and services, while the government and private sectors provide basic services. An estimated 2.2 million vulnerable Lebanese, 207,700 Palestinian refugees and 86,200 migrants, including 700,000 children, are facing a humanitarian crisis and multiple deprivations.2 UNICEF will prioritize ensuring access to basic social services3 and reducing the risk of families resorting to negative coping strategies by addressing urgent humanitarian needs - through existing inclusive systems, where possible - and by incorporating across its interventions community-based approaches, resilience, gender and inclusion, and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. UNICEF requires US$91.7 million to support vulnerable children and families affected by the complex crises. This includes ensuring nearly 1 million people have access to safe water, and providing social protection assistance for 20,000 people.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
Lebanon is grappling with economic and financial meltdown, compounded by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the economic and financial crisis began in October 2019, the Lebanese Pound has lost more than 90 per cent of its value, leading an average inflation rate of 154.8 per cent in 2021.
Lebanon’s critical water infrastructure is reaching breaking point, threatening access to safe water for more than 4 million people. UNICEF estimates most public water pumping will gradually cease across Lebanon between April and June 2022. Water shortages force households to rely on unsafe and expensive alternatives such as collecting untreated water from springs or water trucking. Decreased hygiene practices to reduce water consumption are increasing the risk of COVID-19 and waterborne diseases, with babies and young children especially vulnerable.
Primary healthcare centres (PHCs) are severely strained due to an exodus of staff and shortages of medication and fuel. Approximately 15 per cent of 20,000 registered nurses left the country over the past year, and about 1,000 have been laid off. Around 40 per cent of medical doctors have permanently emigrated or are working part-time outside of the country. PHCs are rationing fuel by reducing opening hours, and more than 600 private pharmacies have temporarily closed. The crises are impacting preventive and promotive health services, with immunization coverage dropping by more than 30 per cent.
The crisis is exacerbating gender-based violence (GBV). More than two-thirds of GBV-related organizations have experienced increased calls for assistance on their hotlines, and 96 per cent report reduced ability of survivors to reach out for assistance.
Learning losses due to multiple crises and inequitable access to remote learning over the last two school years will likely be irreversible without urgent focus on delivering inclusive learning opportunities to recover lost learning. COVID-19 disrupted education for over 1.2 million school-aged children, with 170,000 children in need of education support due to poverty and other factors. Among the most vulnerable, children with disabilities and girls are most at risk of never returning to learning. Teachers' salaries devalued due to the currency crisis, and an urgent roll-out of teacher incentives is required to ensure continuity and quality of learning. As the situation continues to deteriorate, measures are taken that often put children at risk. Children as young as 6 years are working on the streets, in agricultural fields or on construction sites, where they are exposed to risks of exploitation.