Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it
provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition,
education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
- The multiple crises facing Lebanon – economic collapse, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Beirut explosion and the protracted refugee crisis – have thrust the country into uncertainty. Vulnerabilities have significantly increased among all populations, impacting children’s basic rights and physical and mental well-being. An estimated 1.6 million people, including 541,000 vulnerable children, are facing multiple deprivations.
- UNICEF will prioritize increasing access to basic social services, including comprehensive primary health care, safe drinking water, sanitation, child protection and gender-based violence services, as well as social protection and quality education and training for children, adolescents and youth. UNICEF will also pursue longer-term system strengthening and sustainable solutions, while mainstreaming gender and inclusion, protection from sexual exploitation and abuse, and COVID-19 prevention, mitigation and response measures across its interventions.
- UNICEF requires US$94 million to support vulnerable children and families affected by the complex crisis and its secondary impacts.
Key planned results for 2021
250,000 people accessing a sufficient quantity of safe water
15,000 children/caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support
1,234 schools implementing safe school protocols
35,000 households reached with cash transfers across sectors
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis since the civil war. High levels of inflation, layoffs, pay cuts and currency devaluation, exacerbated by COVID-19 and the Beirut explosion, are threatening the livelihoods and well-being of the most vulnerable people, including Lebanese and migrant workers. An estimated 1.6 million people, including 541,000 children, are facing multiple deprivations.
Food prices have increased 300 per cent in just one year and over 60 per cent of Lebanese have reduced their food consumption, putting children at heightened risk of malnutrition. Currently, only 13 per cent of children aged 6 to 23 months are eating the minimum adequate diet for complementary feeding.
In times of instability and uncertainty, children's physical and mental health are at increased risk due to heightened stress and anxiety. Before the crisis, 6 per cent of Lebanese children were working; 4 per cent were married; and 57 per cent experienced violent discipline. The numbers are expected to rise further as additional families fall below the extreme poverty line.
Economic deterioration is threatening the delivery of and access to quality basic services, including water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, education and specialized services for disabled children. The already underfunded public sector is overstretched, as increasing numbers of people no longer able to afford private services shift to the public sector. After an initially successful response to COVID-19, the number of cases skyrocketed, particularly after the Beirut explosion on 4 August, putting additional pressure on the health system. The water establishments responsible for providing water and wastewater services have been unable to collect user fees, which is threatening service provision.
The economic crisis and COVID-19 are threatening access to learning for children and adolescents and leaving youth unemployed. The port explosion damaged 90 public and 73 private primary schools and 20 public technical and vocational education and training institutions. Remote and blended learning are presenting additional obstacles for the most vulnerable who lack access to digital tools and connectivity. Meanwhile, children with special needs lack access to specialized support, including psychotherapy and speech therapy. Specialized public institutions remain unfunded.
Overcrowded housing conditions in locations where populations are unable to pay rent or are displaced due to the Beirut explosion have raised the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Community and household tensions are are also giving rise to sexual and gender-based violence, with women and children particularly affected.
In Lebanon, UNICEF will support the most vulnerable children and young people and contribute to social cohesion through integrated programming targeting affected people regardless of nationality and balancing humanitarian and development needs. UNICEF will equip partners and communities with information and tools to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19; promote gender-transformative programming; and strengthen capacities to address the needs of children with disabilities.
UNICEF will continue to lead the WASH, education and child protection sectors and the risk communication and community engagement pillar of the COVID-19 response, and play a key role in the infection prevention and control pillar, the gender-based violence sector and the social protection response.
The child protection programme will focus on promoting the well-being and continued protection of women, girls, and boys and their families by preventing and mitigating risks of violence, abuse and exploitation of children and women, and providing vital services, including psychosocial support for children and caregivers.
In health and nutrition, UNICEF will focus on providing children, adolescents and women with life-saving, quality health services, including immunization and nutritional supplementation for children under 5 years, and information on healthy nutrition, including breastfeeding. UNICEF will also strengthen the information systems and capacities of partners and promote community engagement for behaviour and social change.
The social policy programme will focus on expanding the coverage of emergency social assistance to vulnerable households affected by COVID-19, particularly those with children and people with disabilities. UNICEF will also conduct advocacy and engage strategically at the policy level to support the development of the National Social Protection Policy, produce information on child poverty, and strengthen national accountability on public finances.
In WASH, UNICEF will mitigate the impacts of compound crises on access to water and wastewater services. UNICEF will hire youth trained through its cash-for-work programme; directly connect households to water and wastewater networks; support municipalities to provide water and wastewater services to marginalized populations; and provide supplies, materials and equipment to water establishments.
The adolescent and youth programme will increase the quality of and access to technical and vocational training, and innovative life-skills programmes to improve employability, while increasing opportunities for meaningful participation, empowerment and income generation.
Communication for development activities will promote healthy behaviours and community engagement; support the dissemination of accurate and evidence-based information; and ensure that the voices and needs of affected populations are heard and inform interventions. Progress against the 2020 programme targets is available in the humanitarian situation reports: https://www.unicef.org
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children in Lebanon; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.