30 April 2024

Caught in the Crossfire

Six months into the cross-border conflict between Lebanon and Israel, hostilities along the border have intensified, marked by near-daily airstrikes that have progressively hit deeper into Lebanon. These strikes have damaged civilian infrastructure and facilities and have resulted in the death of 344 people, including 8 children and 21 women, as well as injured 75 children. This conflict is the latest crisis to impact Lebanon, which has already been devastated by a protracted economic and political crisis. The conflict has reduced access to essential services, such as health and education – worsening an already dire situation for children and their communities. As of the end of April, almost 90,000 people, including over 30,000 children, have been displaced from their homes.The current conflict has exacerbated a pre-existing education crisis in Lebanon. Up to 20,000 children in the South of the country have had a disrupted school year; with negative impacts on their ability to build the foundational literacy, numeracy and life skills they need for a brighter future. Continued disruption to in-person teaching and learning heightens risks like child labour and early marriage for the most vulnerable children including children with disabilities and girls and adolescent young women. Even before the current conflict, over 700,000 children were out of school and not learning. The continued disruption to education, especially in the South, risks making it even harder for Out of School Children to be in school, for longer and learning more.By December 2023, 16% of families resorted to sending children to work, up from 11% in April, with Syrian refugee families particularly affected.4 Access to services, notably public healthcare, is declining due to financial constraints, energy shortages, and a lack of resources and medication. Most wastewater treatment plants are non-functional, leading to environmental degradation and water contamination. The current conflict has only worsened these conditions, leading to a surge in humanitarian needs across the country – requiring urgent action to address the pressing needs of the most vulnerable children.