On World Children’s Day, November 23rd, UNICEF released a report on a survey conducted in Lebanon showing the worsening impact of the crisis on children.
With no sign of betterment in Lebanon’s economy, the impact on children is progressively worsening. A recent poll showed an increase in the number of children going hungry, having to work to support family, and not getting access to decent healthcare.
According to recent UNICEF figures, 3 in 10 households have cut expenses on education while 4 in 10 had to sell household items to buy basic goods, and 7 in 10 are having to buy food on credit or borrow money.
The economic crisis is also having a severe impact on children’s health.
In the latest survey, it was noted that the percentage of Lebanese children who required primary health care and did not receive it rose from 18.2% to 35.8%. It has almost doubled.
Yukie Mokuo, the UNICEF representative in Lebanon, said: “Hundreds of thousands are going to bed hungry; they’re not receiving the health care they need and [are] unable to attend school.”
Faced with skyrocketing inflation and rising prices of goods, families are struggling to provide for their children.
The new figures released by UNICEF show a dramatic deterioration in living conditions over six months, with more than half of families having at least one child who skipped a meal in September. That compares to about 37% in April 2021.
In a statement, Mokuo said: “I have never seen a child malnourished in this country before, but recently I witnessed myself a child who is suffering from malnutrition.”
The report is based on two Child-focused Rapid Assessments conducted by UNICEF in April 2021 and again in October 2021 among the same families.
The change in figures from April till October reveals that Lebanon’s crisis is escalating to the worse. For example, 40% of families had to sell household items, up from 33%.
“Lebanon’s Government needs to take swift action to safeguard children and the country’s future,” Mokuo urged.
Lebanon is simultaneously struggling with one of the world’s worst economic crises in modern history, the Covid-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the massive Beirut Port explosion.
Recent estimates show that nearly 9 in 10 Lebanese live in poverty and 36 percent in extreme poverty.
The effects are dramatic, to the extent that 700,000 children in Lebanon cannot go back to school.