• Crisis Severity ?
    3.6
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    2.7
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    4.1
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    3.2
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    3.0
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Special Reports

25/08/2020

Overview

18/05/2021

Lebanon is facing a major socioeconomic crisis due to years of mounting public debt and a high fiscal deficit. The socioeconomic humanitarian crisis is driven by Lebanese pound devaluation, increased unemployment and poverty, business closures, inflation, limited access to foreign exchange and imports, and decreased foreign remittances. While the entire country has felt the economic hardship, the already poor and vulnerable Lebanese and refugee populations have been particularly affected ?.

An estimated 1.5 million members of the most vulnerable Lebanese populations, 1.5 million Syrian refugees, 180,000 Palestinian refugees from Lebanon, and 27,700 Palestinian refugees from Syria are considered vulnerable and in need of humanitarian assistance ?.  Crisis conditions were further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Beirut port explosion in August 2020 ?

The economic crisis has increased the poverty rate, which reached 45% in 2019 from 30% in 2018 and 27.4% in 2011–2012. It is expected that more than half of the population will be living in poverty by 2021. In the second half of 2020, roughly 35% of all Lebanese households faced challenges accessing food and meeting other basic needs, with 49% of households experiencing food shortages and 22% consuming inadequate diets (i.e., poor and borderline food consumption). The unemployment rate reached 49% in 2020 – a drastic increase from 11% in 2019 ?.

Latest Developments

14/09/2021

No recent significant humanitarian developments. The crisis is being monitored by our analysis team. 

Humanitarian Access

21/07/2021

HIGH CONSTRAINTS

Humanitarian access remains constrained as a result of extensive disruptions of public infrastructure and basic services and the rapidly rising inflation of the Lebanese pound. This has resulted in major price increases and a lack of key items, including food, medicine, and fuel. Protests and riots hampering the movement of people and services are very common in Lebanon. Refugees and migrants without civil documentation can access humanitarian aid but face movement restrictions, risk of detention, and severe obstacles in completing civil registration procedures. The lack of documentation also significantly limits their access to public services, including healthcare, and formal employment. Undocumented refugees are more exposed to intercommunal conflict but less likely to receive assistance if affected by violence. The lack of foreign currency constitutes an important operational challenge for humanitarian organisations working in Lebanon. The cold temperatures, storms, and flooding during January–March 2021 reduced refugees’ mobility and access to aid.

Read more in the latest ACAPS Humanitarian Access Overview.

Risk

Subsidies for basic goods are removed, leading to a marked deterioration of economic conditions and food insecurity, and an increase in political violence Latest update: 04/04/2021

Probability

Highly unlikely Somewhat likely Highly likely

Impact

Very low Moderate Major

Risk rationale

People in Lebanon have suffered from mounting public debt and currency devaluation since October 2019. The compounded effects of economic deterioration and a negative perception of the response to the Beirut blast in August 2020 led to the
government’s resignation on 10 August. The government of Hassan Diab remains in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet is formed. The formation of a new government has been stalled however, hampering any political or economic reforms.?

The Lebanese government subsidises fuel, flour, medications, and other essential commodities to maintain affordable prices of basic products.? In late 2020, the governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank publicly stated that depleting foreign currency reserves were likely to push the state to remove subsidies.? Recent public statements suggested that resources for subsidies are likely to last up to approximately June 2021, depending on how much money remains in the foreign reserve.?

The expected deterioration in living conditions, driven by the currency depreciation and subsidy removal, is likely to drive further protests across Lebanon. The rapid and unprecedented currency depreciation, which has reached 15,000 Lebanese pounds to 1 USD, has already led to the re-ignition of protests in March 2021.? Poverty levels increased from 30% of the Lebanese population in 2018 to 45% in 2019. Salaries have not increased in line with inflation, decreasing purchasing power and pushing more people into poverty.? Depreciating currency, the risk of subsidies being removed, and soaring prices triggered further demonstrations in Beirut in June and December 2020.?

The protests are likely to turn into violent demonstrations and trigger a violent police response. This has already happened in Tripoli: following the announcement of a COVID-19 curfew amid already deteriorating economic conditions, protests sparked between 14 January - 8 February 2021 and spread to other cities including Beirut.? Since 2019, security forces have exercised increasing violence against and repression of protesters, through arrests and detentions.?

Risk impact

The removal of subsidies will result in immediate price increases for basic commodities such as wheat, fuel, and medicine. This will reduce households’ purchasing power, pushing more people under the poverty line and severely restricting access to basic goods, particularly for refugee populations and poor Lebanese households. Almost half of the Lebanese population and all Syrian refugees already live with dire levels of food insecurity.? The impact of the subsidy removal, compounded by governmental control over foreign capital, will likely be felt by up to 90% of Lebanese residents and all Syrian refugees across all of the country’s cities within the next six months.?

Read the full latest Global Risk Analysis here.

Read this risk

COVID-19 Outbreak

18/05/2021

Lebanon recorded 535,954 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 7,631 associated deaths as at 18 May 2021.?

Since November 2020, the Lebanese Government has adopted several measures to control the spike in COVID-19 cases. The Government issued a three-day complete lockdown during the Orthodox Easter celebrations. A curfew from 21:30 to 5:00 was issued on 12 April and lasted throughout the month of Ramadan. Previously, Lebanon declared a 'state of emergency' between 14–25 January (with a possible extension) to contain the coronavirus surge, imposing a 24-hour curfew throughout the country. Measures taken to mitigate the transfer of the virus include partial or full lockdowns, limited capacity in public and private gatherings, and an odd/even rotation rule concerning transportation. ?

These restrictions have mobilised the communities, which were already in deep economic and financial crisis. Protests and riots – mainly in the streets of Tripoli and Saida – intensified at the end of January because of the coronavirus lockdown, as well the worsening socioeconomic situation.?

Find more information about the global impact of COVID-19 here.

Key Priorities

18/05/2021

Food security: between November–December 2020, 41% of Lebanese households faced challenges meeting their basic needs – an increase from 36% in September–October 2020. Roughly 85% of all Lebanese households reported consuming cheaper and less preferred food ?.

Livelihoods: in 2020, two out of three Lebanese households suffered from a reduced income – an increase from the previous year – and food was a major source of concern. Overall poverty in Lebanon will likely continue to worsen and affect all population groups. More than half of the Lebanese population and the entire refugee population are expected to be living in poverty by 2021 ?

WASH: Lebanon lacks a comprehensive solid waste management strategy and relies on costly landfills. The Beirut port explosion further damaged the waste management infrastructure. The inefficiency of waste management exposes the population to higher health and environmental risks ?.

Info Gaps

18/05/2021
  • Figures on poverty levels change rapidly and different sources mention different estimates.
  • There is no official figure regarding the number of jobs lost since October 2019.

UPDATE FROM OCTOBER 2020 RISK ANALYSIS

04/04/2021

The deepening socio-economic crisis in Lebanon leads Syrian refugees to opt for unsafe return to Syria, increasing humanitarian needs

Lebanon continues to experience a deepening socio-economic crisis with a deteriorating political and healthcare situation. Poverty among Syrian refugees in Lebanon dramatically increased in 2020. Around 90% of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees in the country live in extreme poverty, up from 55% in 2019.? The number of Syrian refugees who are food insecure also increased, from 29% in 2019 to 49% in 2020.? COVID-19 contingency measures resulted in increased humanitarian needs and aggravated difficulties in sustaining livelihoods and income. This increased people’s reliance on negative coping mechanisms, particularly among the poorest and most vulnerable in the country.? Overall poverty and access to basic services in Lebanon is likely to continue to worsen in 2021, affecting all population groups.?

Despite these circumstances and the severity of needs, the total number of Syrian refugee returnees in 2020 was 9,351 - less than half of the 22,728 returns registered in 2019.? This can be attributed to the fact that the decision of refugees to go back to Syria is influenced mainly by the security and safety situation, economic growth and possibilities, public service availability, and personal ties to their places of origin in Syria - and less so by the poor living conditions in Lebanon.? In a needs assessment conducted in 2020, 81% of key informants among the Syrian returnees from all countries of displacement - including Lebanon - said that the worsening economic situation in their place of displacement was the most important factor for returning, followed by a need to protect properties, cultural ties, and the improvement of the security situation in their location of origin.? Unless the situation significantly improves in Syria, refugees are unlikely to return; this differs from the risk highlighted in the October 2020 Global Risk Analysis.