The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Lebanon, the Humanitarian Coordinator, Najat Rushdi, announced during a press conference held at the headquarters of the United Nations House – ESCWA in central Beirut, a comprehensive collective response plan for Lebanon with the aim of meeting the humanitarian needs of the Lebanese, migrants and refugees, which had not been responded to before, and it includes 119 projects. With a total value of 383 million US dollars, it targets 1.1 million Lebanese and immigrants among the most vulnerable groups.
“In my recent field visits, I met many Lebanese, children, youth, adults, women and men. Their stories were heartbreaking, sometimes horrific and shocking. I spoke with 15-year-old Shadi, whose dream was just to have a mobile phone and some decent clothes,” Rushdi said. Lee: “Now I should be in school studying like other children, and take the money from my parents and not the other way around.” I met mothers with families who were embarrassed and ashamed to wait in queues to receive their food rations, they had never relied on others to feed their children, they told me With tears aroused by feelings of despair.However, their main concern is finding food for their families and getting a job to pay the rent.They are worried about the safety of their children, their education and their unknown future.These are just examples of the thousands of Lebanese who are now suffering from some aspect of poverty, and are struggling to make ends meet. The stories are endless and it would take me days to tell them. In short, the hardships and tragedies of ordinary people have become unbearable.”
She added: “You all live here and know very well the issues that Lebanon has been suffering from for two years, namely: the economic and financial collapse, the catastrophic impact of the explosions in the Port of Beirut and the outbreak of the Corona virus. The political impasse that lasted for many months also added to this multifaceted crisis, which led to fueling the protests. The effect of hyperinflation that eroded the value of the Lebanese pound not only deteriorated the purchasing power of the people, but also prevented public and private service providers from continuing to provide basic goods and services at a reasonable price, or Even from securing it in the first place.A clear example of this is the acute fuel shortage that the country has been experiencing since August.The results have been exhausting: long queues for fuel shown on all televisions around the world, long queues for bread, medicine and baby formula and recently to obtain passports. The steadfast people of Lebanon are tired of steadfastness, and tired of the thorny problems that life in Lebanon throws at them. This people simply want to live in dignity.
And she continued, “Many people find themselves in a situation they could not have imagined a year ago, when Lebanon was still considered a high-middle-income country. Now, the majority of the Lebanese live in poverty. In March 2021, it was estimated that 78% Of the Lebanese (i.e. 3 million people) live below the poverty line, while 36% of the Lebanese are now living in “extreme” poverty, i.e. 1.38 million Lebanese.This is very worrying.More Lebanese families have become unable to afford basic expenses such as food and health. electricity, water, internet, fuel and education. As for the most vulnerable among the poor, the impact of the crisis is so devastating that survival has become their only goal.”
And she added, “Hunger has also become a growing reality for thousands of people. According to a joint assessment between the World Bank and the World Food Programme, 22% of Lebanese families – nearly a quarter of the population – were unable to meet their food needs by the end of 2020, while rates of poor Acute feeding among children aged 6 months to 5 years has increased significantly between 2019 and 2020, coinciding with families adopting infant and young child feeding practices that are not up to global standards, and these numbers will certainly increase in 2021. However, The situation remains a living nightmare for ordinary people, causing untold suffering to the most vulnerable. Today, we estimate that more than one million Lebanese men and women are in need of relief assistance to cover their basic needs, including food.”
“Add to that, the health system in Lebanon has overburdened itself due to the double impact of the economic crisis and the outbreak of the Corona epidemic. People are unable to access and afford health care amid the increasing shortage of medicines and medical supplies. Pharmacies shelves are empty,” she said. Hospital stocks are running low, home medicine cabinets are empty. Cancer patients are paying a heavy price, with most of them having to stop their life-saving treatment. This is totally unacceptable. It is a death sentence for anyone whose life depends on this treatment. Moreover, the loss of salary value has led to the emigration of many skilled healthcare workers, leaving behind a faltering health sector at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to require critical care.
She added: “The education sector in Lebanon has also been affected equally. According to UNICEF, at least 1.2 million children – including Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian children – have been interrupted in their education for more than a year. Despite efforts to reopen schools, the The current energy crisis poses a threat to the continuity of the school year, and as is the case with health workers, the depreciation of the Lebanese pound has significantly affected the salaries of teachers, prompting many to search for job opportunities in other countries. Covering the costs of education The mental health of children is also at stake, as 32 per cent of Lebanese children received psychosocial support at the beginning of 2021 compared to only 10 per cent in 2020. In parallel, the number of children involved in child labor is increasing significantly. As one of the negative coping mechanisms that vulnerable families resort to.
He continued: “Due to the lack of electricity, the water supply is on the verge of collapse while vital services, including hospitals, are severely affected. If the situation continues to deteriorate, it is likely that up to 4 million people, including 1 million refugees, will be affected by the water shortage. Or they could cut off their water completely.
And she added, “In fact, the crisis has weighed on refugees as well, as the preliminary results of the 2021 Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which was released two days ago, revealed a dire situation, where nine out of ten Syrian refugees are under the line. Extreme poverty, which is a 60% increase since 2019. Half of Syrian families are now food insecure, with about two-thirds having to reduce the portion size or reduce the number of meals they eat per day.High levels have been reported. From poverty among the 257,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon, at a time of increasing tension in the camps, which increased pressure on UNRWA to double its relief aid and ease tensions.
On the other hand, there are migrants, who in the past came to Lebanon in search of vacancies and better living conditions, and today they live in precarious conditions. According to a recent assessment by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 70% of migrants and workers reported Domestic Asian and African immigrants in Lebanon (i.e. about 400,000 people) have found that they were stranded in the country without any work or way to return home, and found themselves unable to meet their basic food needs.For all these groups including the Lebanese, Illegal immigration, even through criminal networks, is increasingly becoming an approved “exit” to leave the country. Departures by sea are on the rise, and for refugees there is a significant risk of a series of forced returns.
She added: “For the United Nations and its humanitarian partners, it is a professional and legal responsibility to continue to assist and protect Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, as well as the communities hosting them. It is also a humanitarian imperative to assist the Lebanese and foreign migrants across the country who are now suffering the most. Refraining from assuming this responsibility reflects a failure to achieve fairness and its principles on the one hand, and to ensure stability and ensure that “no one is harmed” on the other.
She continued, “Since I joined the United Nations family in Lebanon in August 2020, the stories of shock, loss, distress and despair that people have shared with me have been countless. These painful stories have also motivated us to make every effort to help the people of Lebanon emerge from these crises.” We are committed to action, which is why, through generous donor contributions, we have been able – as the United Nations and our humanitarian partners in Lebanon – to work tirelessly to mitigate and contain the effects of this multifaceted crisis since 2020. As unmet needs Addressing them is still significant, as I decided in June of this year to lead the humanitarian community in formulating a comprehensive collective humanitarian response plan for Lebanon, time-bound, and following a system of specific priorities, evidence-based and concerned with complementing existing programmes. On the sidelines of the August 4 joint conference between the United Nations and France on Lebanon, with the aim of meeting the critical humanitarian needs between the Lebanese and migrants that had not been previously responded to.
And she added, “The emergency response plan includes 119 projects with a total value of $383 million aimed at providing critical life-saving assistance and protection services over the next 12 months. This plan targets 1.1 million Lebanese and migrants among the most vulnerable groups, and supports them in the education sectors.” Food security, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, child protection and protection from gender-based violence, and in the context of responding to the energy and fuel crisis, the plan also includes an emergency logistical operational plan that focuses on establishing a fuel supply chain to ensure the continuity of the work of humanitarian agencies on the one hand, and providing fuel to health institutions and institutions Important water and sanitation throughout Lebanon on the other hand (within a very limited period of time).”
She said, “The activities outlined in the plan revolve mostly around providing direct support to beneficiaries. This includes: (1) distributing food and cash assistance to approximately 500,000 people, and (2) improving access to doctors and medicines in primary health care centers for approximately 250,000 people. (3) Providing legal aid and access to safe homes for victims of domestic violence (4) Distributing health products to women and girls and 100,000 hygiene kits to protect families from COVID-19 (5) Providing psychosocial support to nearly 100,000 children female children and other vulnerable populations, (6) monitoring nutrition and providing nutritional supplements to nearly 400,000 young children and pregnant and lactating women, and (7) providing remote and in-person learning facilities for children.”
She added: “Each part of the plan, which is organized around a specific sector, articulates clear objectives in terms of the target population and the impact of humanitarian interventions, which will help us closely and regularly monitor the implementation of the plan, whether it is at the funding level or at the level of tracking achievements, risks or challenges. Because transparency and accountability are our guiding principles and our shared values, these reports will be published and available to all.”
She continued: “Last August of this year, during the United Nations-France Joint Conference in Support of the Lebanese People, donors generously pledged US$370 million to fund the Emergency Response Plan. We are counting on their unlimited generosity to promptly fulfill their pledges to allow us to implement The life-saving projects identified under this plan are timely.The funding they provide will save lives and make a huge difference in alleviating the suffering of the most vulnerable.In addition, a total of US$10 million has also been disbursed from the New York Central Emergency Response Fund and from the Humanitarian Fund In Lebanon managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in early September of this year in order to finance the delivery of fuel under the plan and expeditiously. These flexible financing mechanisms are essential to save lives and meet urgent humanitarian assistance. Every dollar counts.” .
Rushdi said: “It is clear that, in order to better move forward, a new set of humanitarian interventions fall short of providing a durable solution for Lebanon. Humanitarian action is intended to be short-term, temporary and unsustainable by its nature. It primarily aims to save lives and alleviate The suffering of people is not intended to solve the root causes of the crisis and address its drivers, as only a sustainable solution can restore the dignity of those affected by crises. And Lebanon is no exception, we are doing our best to mitigate the current precarious situation, but the responsibility lies in the end It is the responsibility of Lebanon’s leaders to take the necessary measures and adopt the much-needed reforms to help Lebanon get back on its feet and move forward on the path to recovery.”
She added, “Indeed, in my contacts with the Lebanese authorities, including the new government, I have always stressed the primary responsibility of the government, as the primary responsible, to ensure that people have safe, sustainable and dignified access to basic social services. These are legitimate, non-transferable human rights. responsibility to anyone.”
From this rostrum, I reiterate that the United Nations, along with its international partners, is determined and committed to supporting the new government in addressing the root causes of the crisis, and most importantly putting people at the center of its policies and plans. Lebanon faces a difficult path. Therefore, implementation must be implemented. Immediate reforms to alleviate the suffering of the people and put an end to the growing humanitarian needs. Comprehensive and integrated social protection must be provided to help protect the most vulnerable and avoid the increasing impoverishment of the population.”
She added, “Lebanon’s treasure and wealth lie in its people, with their wonderful human capital. So, preserving this wealth is the best investment we can make to help Lebanon get back on its feet and move forward toward a prosperous future. As we work tirelessly to meet the immediate and immediate needs.” In Lebanon, we keep our eyes on establishing a sustainable development agenda that will put Lebanon back on its right track.”
She concluded: “It is still possible to achieve a brighter future in Lebanon if we work together and if we act now. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Lebanon.”