EU and World Food Programme join forces to support vulnerable populations in Lebanon
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, commented: “The economic and financial downturn, the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently, the explosions at the port of Beirut, have left thousands of families with no access to livelihoods, no assets and no adequate social protection. The European Union continues to stand with the people of Lebanon during these challenging times. Together with our partner WFP, we support strengthening the national social assistance systems and making them more effective, accountable and transparent. The EU will assist Lebanon in economic recovery, but the Government of Lebanon must commit and deliver on reforms.”
“This generous contribution from the EU is coming at a critical time when so many people in Lebanon are struggling to make ends meet. Thanks to the EU’s vital support, WFP will continue covering both the immediate and longer-term needs of the most vulnerable people across the country - bringing some hope and normality back to their lives. Our partnership is a great example of how humanitarian and development assistance, offered together, can really save lives and change lives in Lebanon,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.
The recently signed new agreement brings the overall budget of our joint support up to €151.2 million and makes the EU and its Member States the biggest contributor to social assistance in Lebanon. Of the total €151.2 million, up to €10 million are specifically earmarked for populations affected by the economic crisis, who suffered in the wake of the Beirut explosions on 4 August. The devastating blasts exposed residents of greater Beirut to injury and increased vulnerability due to the physical damage, the destruction of their dwellings, the loss of livelihoods, and the spike in COVID-19 cases combined with the diminished capacity of the health system. Up to 37,000 of the most vulnerable households will benefit from multi-purpose cash transfers for up to six months through the EU Trust Fund.
Beyond the emergency response, the project also aims to strengthen the national social assistance system. A significant amount is allocated to build its capacity, effectiveness and accountability; and to scale up the National Poverty Targeting Programme food e-card to reach up to 300,000 Lebanese, jointly with other donors.
Since 2019, the EU has been supporting vulnerable families, both Lebanese and refugees from Syria, and the establishment of a national social assistance system through WFP, with a budget of €48 million. This new contribution of €103.2 million signed this September ensures the expansion and extension of this support until February 2022. With an overall budget of €151.2 million, the EU and its Member States are the biggest contributor to social assistance in Lebanon, both in terms of delivering assistance as well as building the national social assistance system.
EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis
Since its establishment in December 2014, a significant share of the EU's support to help Syrian refugees and Syria's neighbouring countries has been provided through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis. The Trust Fund reinforces an integrated EU aid response to the crisis and primarily addresses longer-term resilience and needs to enhance the self-reliance of Syrian refugees. At the same time, it contributes to ease the pressure on host communities and the administrations in neighbouring countries, notably Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The Fund underpins the EU Compacts agreed with Jordan and Lebanon to better assist them in coping with the protracted refugee crisis. To date, the Fund has mobilised over €950 million for Lebanon, over €530 million for Jordan, over €500 for Turkey, and more than €160 million for Iraq. Overall, €2.2 billion have been mobilised from the EU budget and contributions from 21 EU Member States, the United Kingdom and Turkey.
The Trust Fund's programmes support basic education and child protection services for refugees, training and higher education, better access to healthcare, improved access to water and wastewater infrastructure, support to resilience, women empowerment and fighting gender-based violence, as well as economic opportunities and social stability. The Fund can also support internally displaced persons in Iraq and actions in the Western Balkans.
World Food Programme
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been in Lebanon since 2011, responding to the immediate and longer-term food and other basic needs of the most vulnerable people and communities across Lebanon.
Since the devastating Beirut blast, WFP distributed food parcels to families in the Karantina, Bourj Hammoud, Gemmayze, Geitawi, and Khandaa El Ghamee neighbourhoods of Beirut. The organisation has also distributed food parcels to local partners and NGOs to support kitchens providing more than 3,000 meals per day to affected families and to volunteers cleaning up the neighbourhoods. WFP has also expanded its multi-purpose cash assistance programme with the aim of reaching 50,000 people whose livelihoods have been affected by the explosion. In addition, WFP has brought 12,500 metric tons of wheat flour into Lebanon to help stabilize the flour supply in the country and the price of bread for a period of 60 days.
Prior to the blast, WFP had been responding to the increased vulnerability of people across the country. The organisation had procured 150,000 food parcels to distribute to families impacted by the economic crisis and COVID-19 lockdown measures. Families will receive food parcels for three months and cash assistance for the remaining three months receive cash assistance.
In addition to its support to Lebanese people, WFP assists more than 800,000 severely vulnerable Syrian refugees; 13,500 Palestinian refugees from Syria; and 7,700 refugees of other nationalities through monthly cash-based transfers.
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.