As the worst economic crisis in decades is dramatically deteriorating living conditions in Lebanon, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) call for sustained support and protection for vulnerable families in the country.
The preliminary findings of the 2022 Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (VASyR), released today, show a continuing sharp decline in living conditions for all Syrian refugees, with even the most basic needs being out of reach for most. Ninety per cent of Syrian refugee families are in need of humanitarian assistance to survive.
One of the most concerning findings of the assessment is food insecurity among Syrian refugee households in Lebanon.
“The levels of food security for refugees in Lebanon are extremely worrisome,” said Abdallah AlWardat, WFP Representative and Country Director in Lebanon. “Thanks to the generous support of our donors, WFP is supporting 1 in every 3 people in the country. We are providing cash assistance, food parcels and school snacks, and supporting livelihoods activities across Lebanon.”
The 2022 VASyR revealed that Syrian refugees are cutting down on meals; adults are eating less to allow their children to eat and are reducing expenditures on health and education to prioritize buying food. Most refugee families have accumulated high debt, with the majority borrowing money to buy food. Almost 87 per cent of families listed food as their main priority followed by housing and healthcare.
“Despite the price of essential items and services skyrocketing by over 700 per cent since June 2020, families in Lebanon still earn less while having to pay much more for the most basic goods. UNHCR and partners continue to support the most vulnerable refugees with humanitarian assistance. UNHCR also supports public institutions, including hospitals and municipalities,” said Ayaki Ito, UNHCR Representative in Lebanon. “But this is far from enough. More help for vulnerable refugees and Lebanese families is urgently needed, including support to Lebanese institutions to provide sustained basic services”.
Syrian refugee children and adolescents are affected the most. The assessment showed that 60 per cent of Syrian refugee children between the ages of 6 and 14 were attending school regularly in 2022, with the rate dropping to 8 per cent attendance for the older adolescents at upper secondary school level. Additionally, children’s nutrition is at stake, with less than half of infants under five months of age being exclusively breastfed, and only 11 per cent meeting the minimum number of meals and food groups per day. Six out of 10 Syrian refugee boys and girls experienced violent disciplinary methods.
“Children and adolescents are the most affected by the escalating crisis – with deepening inequality and discrimination – especially amongst vulnerable groups. Children are growing without enough food, without proper access to healthcare and education,” said UNICEF Representative in Lebanon Edouard Beigbeder. “Concerted action is needed to protect them and ensure they can reach their full potential.”
While VASyR studies vulnerabilities among Syrian refugees in particular, Lebanese are also struggling to cope. The United Nations will continue to work together with the government and partners to provide much-needed lifesaving support to all vulnerable communities and people in Lebanon.