• Crisis Severity ?
    3.7
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    3.3
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    4.3
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    2.9
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    3.0
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Special Reports

25/08/2020

Overview

24/06/2020

Accumulating fiscal and economic problems led to a deep and wide-reaching crisis, spurring protests throughout Lebanon starting from 17 October 2019. Protesters, who took to the streets as recently as June 2020, have demonstrated against politicians, corruption, and denounced a deteriorating quality of life.?The main issues affecting the entire population include rising inflation, skyrocketing commodity prices, informal capital controls and limits put on personal bank withdrawals, scarcity of foreign currency, and staggering unemployment.? Non-governmental estimations find 20% of the population below the extreme poverty line, with 41 % of the population below the poverty line.? Unofficial estimates of unemployment report around 80,000 job losses since 17 October, for a total of 430,000 people unemployed as of May 2020.?

On 30 April Prime Minister Hassan Diab unveiled a plan of economic and governance reforms to tackle the spiralling crisis, also aiming at obtaining an IMF plan.? The impact of the economic crisis is felt by all, but especially the already poor and vulnerable Lebanese communities, and refugees within the country.?

Latest Developments

11/04/2021

10/04/2021: The socioeconomic crisis and COVID-19 have disrupted education for 1.2 million children across Lebanon since October 2019. Around 35% of child refugees enrolled in school in 2020 had access to some remote learning. Lack of space, civil documents, and transportation to school are limiting refugees’ access to education ?.

05/04/2021: Additional 2.5 million Lebanese and 430,000 Syrian refugees are projected to fall behind the national poverty line in 2021. COVID-19 compounded the socio-economic crisis and led to an increase in the number of people adopting negative coping mechanisms including cutting spending on food and basic needs, selling household’s items to meet the cost of living, and child labour ?.

25/03/2021: More children engaged in child labour and became the main income earners in their families as poverty increased and access to food deteriorated in Lebanon since October 2019. Over 65% of working children reported being the main earner for their families in 2020, up from 40% in 2019 ?

ACAPS' team is daily monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Find more information related to the outbreak.

Humanitarian Access

15/12/2020

HIGH CONSTRAINTS

Humanitarian access in Lebanon remains constrained. Since May 2015, the government has instructed UNHCR Lebanon to suspend new registrations of Syrian refugees. Undocumented migrants and refugees are still restricted in accessing aid because of a lack of documentation. Checkpoints across Lebanon remain widespread, affecting freedom of movement of many undocumented refugees. Humanitarian organisations working in Lebanon are facing operational impediments, both because of logistical constraints related to the economic crisis, such as a shortage of US dollars – which has affected operations and cash distributions – and as a result of COVID-19 containment measures such as travel restrictions. The presence of landmines, mostly in the south of the country, and related protection concerns continue to pose risks to the population and to humanitarian workers.

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

30/04/2020

Lebanon reported 717 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 27 deaths as of 29 April. On 25 April authorities confirmed a case in the Wavel Palestinian refugee camp in the Bekaa Valley, which hosts around 2,000 people. Four additional cases from the same family were confirmed within hours. Response has focused on cash distribution, information campaigns on hygiene practices, provision of medical equipment, and preparation of temporary isolation facilities in camps. Already in deep economic and financial crisis, food and commodity prices have continued to rise and the value of the Lebanese lira has collapsed since the nation went into lockdown on 18 March. Protests have intensified since 26 April, impeding the departure of COVID-19 testing teams from the capital Beirut.?

Key Priorities

05/05/2020

Livelihoods and food security: rising levels of unemployment, salary cuts, and poverty threaten people’s access to food and sustainable livelihoods.

Protection: 4,300 injuries and 11 deaths associated with the ongoing demonstrations were reported up to 28 April 2020.? Demonstrators and security forces have clashed multiple times in the last months.?

WASH: Dissatisfaction with the solid waste management system and sporadic garbage collection was demonstrated in protests beginning in 2015.? The inefficiency in waste management  exposes the population to higher health risks.

Info Gaps

05/05/2020
  • Figures on poverty levels change rapidly and different sources mention different estimates.
  • There are no updated figures for poverty among Palestinian and Syrian refugees, though baseline data from previous years is available.
  • 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.