All children have the right to be protected from violence, exploitation and abuse. Yet millions of children worldwide from all socio-economic backgrounds, across all ages, religions, and cultures suffer from this every day. UNICEF’s Child Protection programme aims to ensure that all children and women at risk or survivors of violence, exploitation and abuse can thrive among protective institutions, services, and communities.
Operating to address child protection issues within what has become the world’s largest refugee crisis, UNICEF Lebanon has succeeded in establishing a close relationship with the Government of Lebanon and many key national partners to provide critical protection to those children most at risk of violence and abuse. UNICEF Lebanon has become a trusted partner of the government; a partnership that is today fostering collaborations across sectors as a strong foundation for long-term protection.
The Syrian Crisis, now in its ninth year, continues to drive the largest refugee emergency in the world. Although the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has plateaued, the country continues to host the highest number of refugees per capita globally. With more than one million Syrian refugees registered in 2018 and an estimated further 500,000 unregistered, Lebanon is home to around 630,000 refugee children aged between 3 and 18 years of age. Additionally, the nation hosts over 200,000 Palestinian refugees, including approximately 31,000 displaced from Syria.
The situation of girls and boys in Lebanon is critical; especially for the most disadvantaged. Around 3.3 million people in Lebanon - more than half the country’s total population (including Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinians and others) - are categorized as being vulnerable, with an estimated 2.7 million categorized 'poor'.
Such circumstances deliver numerous short and long-term effects on the well-being of children. In the short term, children in Lebanon are exposed to child labor, child marriage, and other forms of violence. Unfortunately, these trends are on the increase as the Syrian Crisis continues, and as Lebanon’s economic outlook continues to weaken.
In the long term, these conditions affect child development, including brain and cognitive development. For the children, abuse and neglect - including not attending school, being forced to work or child marriage, in addition to being exposed to persistent conflict - can have enduring physical, intellectual, psychological and economic repercussions that they will take with them into adolescence and adulthood.
Furthermore, gender inequalities and discrimination leave Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian girls and women at heightened risk. They are disproportionately vulnerable to physical and sexual violence, and exploitation in both the public and private sphere.