An unprecedented crisis leaves a profound impact on children in Lebanon – UNICEF

“This situation demands a similarly unprecedented response to support children deprived of essential services”, said UNICEF Representative, Yukie Mokuo

21 December 2020
Young Girl on the window
UNICEF Lebanon

BEIRUT, 21 December 2020 – 2020 has been exceptionally challenging, a year of unprecedented deterioration of the wellbeing of children, young people and families living in Lebanon. The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a dramatically worsening economic situation followed by the Beirut explosions, are having a devastating impact on children and families who are increasingly in greater need of crucial support and ever more vulnerable to risks, as laid out in UNICEFs new report ‘An unprecedented crisis for children in Lebanon’ presented today by UNICEF Representative, Yukie Mokuo.

In 2020, existing estimations suggest that poverty among Lebanese has increased to 55 percent from 28 percent in 2018, and extreme poverty has tripled to 23 percent from 8 percent. For Syrian refugees, 91% of households are now living under the poverty line and 88% living in extreme poverty.

In particular, the most vulnerable households are facing many challenges to access basic services influenced by the multiple factors compounding this crisis. Routine vaccination has shown a sharp decline and the number of consultations for pregnant women has dropped by an average of 20% from 2019 to 2020. 1.2 million school aged children have been affected by schools’ closure, with many of them facing difficulties (connectivity, equipment…) to access e-learning. Domestic violence and other negative coping strategies have also increased, including violence against children, child labour, and gender-based violence.  

“When a deepening economic crisis and instability coincide with a devastating pandemic and a major disaster, the consequences for children and families can be catastrophic,” she said. “In addition, the impact of removing price subsidies on the country’s most vulnerable households will be tremendous. This is an unprecedented situation, and it demands a similarly unprecedented response to ensure the wellbeing and continued access to essential services for children and the most vulnerable”.

With inflation already at 131% in the year to September 2020, prices set to rise even further, and soaring currency devaluation –among other factors—, the impact of these compounding crisis will further increase the risk of instability and of households falling into poverty and vulnerability.

To address and mitigate the impact of this crisis, UNICEF calls on the government for rapid and large-scale expansion of its social protection system and programmes including cash transfers with an integrated package of learning, child protection and social assistance – critical investments that address immediate financial needs and lay the foundation for Lebanon to prepare for future shocks. “We call for the protection and long-term assistance to the most vulnerable children to keep them and their families safe from negative coping mechanisms”, remarked Yukie Mokuo.

“Without concerted action, more families will be pushed into poverty and vulnerability, and the poorest could face levels of deprivation that have not been seen for many years. Reaching more children, young people and families require urgent and sustained support,” she added. “Working together, we can ensure the most vulnerable children –including refugees, children living with disabilities and girls at risk of violence– are kept healthy, safe and learning”.

UNICEF will continue to advocate for a response that protects the most vulnerable, while working with our donors and partners on the ground. In 2020, UNICEF continued to respond to needs of children and their families across the country by providing humanitarian assistance and supporting access to essential services.

Key Highlights:

  • 293,270 children with equitable access to formal educational and 27,000 with non-formal remote learning.
  • 25,000 young people supported with competency based and vocational training programs to increase their employability and develop their business ideas.
  • 194 Primary Healthcare Centers provided with medical supplies to to fight COVID-19 and protect frontline workers.
  • 365,000 children vaccinated against measles and polio thanks to the 1.7 million doses of vaccines that were saved from the Central Supply Warehouse in Karantina after the explosions.
  • 70,000 vulnerable children affected by the economic crisis across the country are receiving a cash grant, while 80,000 vulnerable children and individuals affected by the explosions are receiving a one-off emergency cash transfer.
  • 20,765 people in 4,080 household were provided with access to water in areas damaged by the explosions.
  • Over 22,000 children under 5 provided with essential nutrition supplements.
  • Over 33,000 people coping with the psychological impact of the explosions have received support.

Media contacts

Raquel Fernandez
Chief of Communication
United Nations Children’s Fund Lebanon
Blanche Baz
Communication Specialist
United Nations Children’s Fund Lebanon

Additional resources


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