Theresia from North Lebanon

Theresia, from North Lebanon, is involved with a local project that brings together young Lebanese and Syrian people.

Lebanon is a small country, half the size of Wales, which for years has been hosting over a million Syrian refugees and a substantial Palestinian refugee community.

Why CAFOD works in Lebanon

A financial and political crisis in Lebanon has been worsening since 2019, and has seriously exacerbated Lebanon’s difficulties – all on top of having to cope with first Covid-19 and then the Beirut port explosions. More than 70% of the population (excluding refugees) lives below the poverty line.   

What is life like for refugees living in Lebanon?
Refugees receiving blankets

Refugees receiving blankets from Caritas Lebanon.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon have been pushed to the edge of survival. Most Syrians are denied legal residency or the right to work. In their efforts to get by, many will take any job available, however low paid or dangerous. In addition, they put up with unhealthy, substandard accommodation, and even withdraw their children from school to send them out to work. Human rights abuses against Syrian refugees have multiplied over the years.

Palestinian refugees have been in Lebanon since 1948, when hundreds of thousands fled the conflict that followed the foundation of the state of Israel. Decades later their descendants are still living as refugees. Most live in overcrowded, poor conditions in 12 official refugee camps. They are prevented from working in many sectors and can't access public services. Around half the estimated 28,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria who have fled to Lebanon have also settled in the camps, putting even further strain on Palestinian host communities.

On 4 August 2020 two explosions in the port of Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut sent an enormous shockwave across the city, killing over 200 people and leaving more than 6,000 injured. Even now, the damage remains massive and people are still traumatised. Many people not only lost their homes, but also their livelihoods.

As competition for scarce resources increases, tensions within and between communities in Lebanon are rising. Women and girls also face an increase in violence.

Read more about how CAFOD responded to the Beirut explosions

Our work in Lebanon

CAFOD’s overall objective is to promote social peace between the different communities. We support the long-term work of our partners, who include Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian organisations working with vulnerable communities to support:

  • the rights of women and girls and prevention of violence
  • social empowerment, especially for women and young people, so they can become active contributors to a better future for everyone
  • dignified and sustainable livelihoods, including vocational training and support to access employment
  • the creation of spaces for dialogue and bridge-building between communities
  • a strong, vibrant and diverse civil society in Lebanon
  • the safety and wellbeing of all people, so they can be safe from harm and access shelter, nutrition, education, health and clean water.

In addition, we support our partners as they respond to emergencies in Lebanon. During the early stages of the spread of Covid-19 our partners provided food, shelter, water and medical supplies to vulnerable families among both refugees and host communities.

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