Lebanon Faces Dire Humanitarian Crisis as Funding Falls Short
Lebanon is currently grappling with one of the most severe humanitarian crises in the world, with nearly 4 million people in desperate need of food and other forms of assistance. Unfortunately, less than half of these individuals are receiving aid due to a lack of funding, according to Imran Riza, the UN humanitarian chief for Lebanon.
Riza further highlights that the level of assistance being provided by the international community is far below the minimum required for survival. Over the past four years, Lebanon has been plagued by a series of compounding crises, leading the World Bank to classify it as one of the 10 worst financial and economic crises since the mid-19th century. Consequently, the humanitarian needs of people across all sectors of society have skyrocketed.
The country’s political class, which has long been accused of corruption and mismanagement, has been resistant to implementing the economic and financial reforms demanded by the international community. Lebanon initiated talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2020 in an attempt to secure a bailout. However, despite reaching a preliminary agreement last year, the country’s leaders have been hesitant to enact the necessary changes.
Adding to the challenges, Lebanon has been without a president for almost a year, and many of its institutions are dysfunctional. Additionally, there is still no political solution in neighboring Syria. The UN estimates that approximately 3.9 million people in Lebanon require humanitarian assistance, including 2.1 million Lebanese, 1.5 million Syrians, 180,000 Palestinian refugees, over 31,000 Palestinians from Syria, and 81,500 migrants.
Last year, the UN provided aid to around a million Syrians and just under 950,000 Lebanese. However, as Riza points out, the situation is deteriorating rapidly. In 2022, the UN received only about 40 percent of the funding it needed, and the trend continues this year. The available resources are dwindling while the needs of the population continue to grow.
Riza expresses deep concern about the lack of attention given to Lebanon’s crisis compared to other global issues. The country is in dire need of support, and urgent action is required. Lebanon currently hosts the highest number of displaced persons per capita and per square kilometer in the world, according to the UN humanitarian office.
Furthermore, tensions within Lebanon are escalating due to negative rhetoric and disinformation surrounding Syrian refugees. Some Lebanese politicians have labeled Syrian refugees as an existential threat, exacerbating the situation. Riza emphasizes the importance of disseminating accurate information about the overall needs in Lebanon and the UN’s efforts to assist all individuals based on their needs, rather than their status or nationality.
In conclusion, Lebanon is facing an alarming humanitarian crisis, with millions of people in desperate need of assistance. However, due to a lack of funding, less than half of those requiring aid are receiving it. The country’s political and economic challenges, coupled with the absence of a functioning government and ongoing tensions in Syria, have exacerbated the situation. Urgent international support is needed to address this dire crisis and prevent further suffering among the Lebanese population and refugees residing in Lebanon.