Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
With some 4.5 million people living in a land area of just 10,000 km square on the eastern Mediterranean coast, Lebanon is small and densely populated. Despite its location in one of the world’s most unsettled regions, the country has been spared the worst of the political and economic woes besetting some of its neighbours. Its geographical position and relatively peaceful climate have made it a destination for more than a million Syrian refugees. While the Government and people of Lebanon have generously extended hospitality to those in need, the refugees’ presence has added another quarter to the resident population. This has strained resources and put local communities under pressure.
Current issues in Lebanon
Since May 2011, more than 1.1 million Syrians have crossed the border into Lebanon, seeking refuge from the conflict in their homeland. Initially present in the north of the country, they have since fanned out to the larger urban centres – the Bekaa Valley, Tripoli, Beirut and Sidon. Almost all of Lebanon’s municipalities now host Syrian refugees.
While food is readily available for purchase in Lebanon, many refugees have exhausted their savings. Paid work is scarce across the country, making it hard to earn an income.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Lebanon
WFP’s Regional Emergency Operation to provide relief for Syrian refugees in the region has been ongoing since June 2012. In Lebanon, WFP has been working closely with the Ministry of Social Affairs; it is also strengthening its partnerships with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to alleviate tensions between vulnerable Lebanese and refugee communities. Finally, WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) co-chair the Food Security Sector and have a strong relationship with the Ministry of Agriculture.
• WFP has implemented an electronic food voucher (e-card) system in collaboration with Banque Libano-Française and under WFP’s global agreement with MasterCard as its primary form of food assistance for vulnerable Syrians in Lebanon who cannot meet their basic food needs. The e-cards are loaded at the beginning of each month, and are used to purchase food from more than 400 local shops, boosting the local economy and providing Syrians with access to fresh produce, dairy products, poultry and meats. The system grants refugees greater agency in determining the makeup of their meals, an important social, psychological and cultural anchor for families in uncertain times. Around 600,000 Syrian refugees currently receive US$27 each per month on their e-cards. In collaboration with the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), WFP is also supporting 21,000 Palestinian refugees formerly based in Syria through a similar ATM programme.
• To ensure that the most vulnerable refugees receive the support that they need, WFP has prioritised its distribution of food assistance to refugees in the most vulnerable situations. Multiple vulnerability assessments of Syrian refugees in Lebanon have been conducted since 2013, in partnership with the UNHCR and local NGOs.
• In March 2016, as part of resilience-building, WFP launched a school meals programme for 10,000 Lebanese and Syrian students in 13 double-shift schools. The packages consist of one tetra pack of milk, one dry snack (such as herb bread or a muffin) and one piece of fruit or juice. As well as improving consumption of micronutrients, the snacks act as an incentive to enrol and stay in education. The schools, located in the most vulnerable communities across Lebanon as identified by UNICEF and UNHCR, were selected in close coordination with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
World Food Programme partners in Lebanon
WFP cannot fight global hunger and poverty alone. These are our partners in Lebanon:
- Ministry of Social Affairs
- Ministry of Education
- Ministry of Agriculture
- Presidency of the Council of Ministers
- American University of Beirut
- Save the Children
- Action Contre La Faim
- Première Urgence-Aide Médicale Internationale
- World Vision
- Danish Refugee Council
- Mercy Corps
- Banque Libano-Française
Featured Lebanon publications
A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.
A Situation Report is a concise operational document with latest updates on the World Food Programme's (WFP) response to an emergency. It gives an overview of WFP’s activities and informs the wider humanitarian community and other interested stakeholders about WFP’s response.
Looking for more publications on Lebanon? Visit the Lebanon publications archive