For the past two years, Lebanon has been grappling with multiple challenges, including the economic and financial crisis, the political stalemate, as well as the devastating effects of the August 2020 bombings in the capital, Beirut, and the ongoing war. In neighboring Syria.
Najat Rochdi, Lebanon’s UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, said many people now fall into a situation that was unimaginable a year ago, when Lebanon was considered a high-middle-income country.
The families barely survive
“More and more Lebanese families are unable to afford basic necessities such as food, health, electricity, water, internet, energy and education. For the poorest of the poor, the impact is devastating, and survival is their only goal. “ He was speaking at a launch in Beirut.
It is estimated that 78 percent of Lebanon’s population, or three million people, live below the poverty line, while extreme poverty has reached 36 percent.
Starvation has become a “growing reality” for thousands of families and the rate of acute malnutrition among children under five has increased significantly.
The situation for ordinary people, he said, is “a living nightmare”.
Fear of the future
During a recent field visit, Mrs. Rochdi told reporters a number of “heartbreaking, sometimes humiliating and tragic” stories. “I’ve met earning mothers who are embarrassed to wait in line to pick up their food parcels,” she recalls.
“In their lives they have never relied on others to feed their children. They told me with tears of frustration. Still, their main concerns are keeping food on the table and getting jobs that pay rent. They care about their children’s safety, their education and their care.” Worried about the future. ”
Extreme blow to education. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), at least 1.2 million children, including Syrian and Palestinian refugees, have had their education disrupted for more than a year.
‘Fat prices’ for healthcare
Lebanon’s public health system has also “expanded beyond its limits”, Ms Rochdi added, due to the dual effects of the economic crisis and the epidemic. Skilled health workers as well as teachers have fled the country.
“People are unable to access and carry healthcare due to the growing shortage of medicines and medical supplies. Pharmacy shelves are empty, hospital stocks are almost exhausted and home medicine cabinets are empty,” he said.
“Cancer patients are paying a high price, most of whom have been forced to discontinue their life-saving treatment. And this is unacceptable. For those whose lives depend too much on medication, it is like a ‘death sentence’! “
Meanwhile, the power crisis and the potential collapse of the water supply have affected critical services, including hospitals, while putting the school year at risk. Mrs Rochdi warned that if the situation worsened, four million people, including one million refugees, would be affected.
To save lives, to alleviate suffering
The ERP covers 119 projects in the areas of education, food security, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, child protection and protection against gender-based violence.
It also has an emergency logistics operational plan that focuses on establishing fuel supply discipline. The goal is to ensure that humanitarians can continue their work, but also for a limited time to provide critical health, water and sanitation facilities throughout Lebanon.
Activities centered on the distribution of food and cash assistance to approximately 500,000 people, improved access to physicians for approximately 250,000 people, nutrition monitoring and food supplementation for 400,000 young children and mothers, and direct assistance in activities including distance and personal education. To children.
This past August, donors attending a conference co-chaired by the United Nations and France to increase support for Lebanon pledged 37 370 million for the plan.
“We rely on their unwavering generosity to meet their commitments promptly to allow timely delivery of life-saving projects to emergency planning. The funds they provide will save lives and alleviate the suffering of the weakest, ”said Mrs Rochdi.
In the meantime, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in New York, as well as another Lebanon-based fund, run by its humanitarian office, the OCHA, disbursed ১০ 10 million last month to finance the ERP’s fuel distribution component.