The United Nations unveiled, in a news conference on Friday, their Emergency Response Plan for Lebanon, which consists of 119 projects to provide essential support to some 1.1 million most vulnerable people, over the next 12 months.
Najat Rochdi, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, revealed that “more and more Lebanese households are unable to afford basic expenses like food, health, electricity, water, internet, fuel, and education.”
“For the most vulnerable among the poor, the impact is extremely devastating, and surviving has become their only goal,” she noted, adding that 78% of the Lebanese are now under the poverty line, and 36% are under extreme poverty. That’s an estimation of 1.38 million Lebanese, according to her.
The UN has previously warned about the imminent catastrophe several times, as the international humanitarian organization watched the idleness of the state in preventing it.
The ministry of social affairs in the previous government came up with a flawed solution to help out, back in January 2021. It required that the lowest-income families register on an online platform to provide them with help.
However, it did not take into account that these families in particular do not have the means to even afford Internet access.
Back in August of 2020, the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) estimated that over half of Lebanon’s population is trapped in poverty.
At the current stage, the majority of the Lebanese people are living in poverty, as declared by Rochdi.
The UN’s new plan encompasses 119 projects in different sectors: education, food security, health nutrition, water and sanitation, child protection, and protection against gender-based violence.
Taking into consideration the fuel crisis in the country, the UN plan includes developing, for a limited period, a fuel supply chain to Lebanon’s health, water, and sanitation establishments.
These projects will provide support directly to the people as follows:
- Distribution of food and cash assistance to 500.000 people.
- Improved access to doctors for 250.000 people.
- Nutritional surveillance and food supplements for 400.000 young children and mothers.
- The provision of legal aid and access to safe houses for victims of home violence.
- Distribution of sanitary products for women and girls.
- 100.000 hygiene kits to protect families from Covid-19.
- Provision of distance and in-person learning to children.
- Provision of psychological support to 100.000 children.
This Emergency Response Plan received donor pledges for $370 million in a conference to boost support for Lebanon.
The remaining $10 million was provided by the Central Emergency Response Fund in New York and the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund managed by OCHA. The amount was handed out in September to finance the fuel delivery component of the Plan.
Rochdi said that the money will enter Lebanon through the Lebanese banking system, under one and only condition: that there will be no losses due to the multiple withdrawal rates and banking limits.
“There is absolutely no way, for any one of us to accept that any percentage goes to the commercial bank,” she stressed.
“This funding is not here to support the banking sector, it’s not here to support anything but people in need, and, when it comes to humanitarian associations, we’ve been very clear … that this is a red line. I consider it my duty that the full value of the money is transferred where it needs to be,” she added.
Calling for immediate action and collaboration, Rushdi concluded her press conference by stressing that “Lebanon greatest richness lays with its people” and that that richness must be helped and preserved “to help Lebanon get back on its feet.”