With a history of conflict and one of the highest rates of wealth inequality in the world, Lebanon already faced considerable challenges, such as high unemployment rates, poverty, weak public services and corruption. The Syria crisis has exacerbated this situation, and the poorest are paying the price.
The areas that already suffered from the greatest pre-crisis inequalities in public services and infrastructure development are now hosting the majority of refugees. 10% of Lebanese and 52% of displaced Syrians are extremely poor.
The refugee crisis in Lebanon
Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world: 1 out of every 4 people. Since the beginning of the Syria crisis in 2011, large numbers of refugees passed the borders to Lebanon escaping from the violence in Syria.
There are an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon (947,063 registered with UNHCR as of January 2019 and many more present but unregistered), who live in over 1,700 communities throughout the country, and around 30 000 Palestinian refugees from Syria.
174,422 Palestinian refugees were living in Lebanon before the Syria crisis. The majority of them live in 12 formal camps and 42 informal gatherings. Since the start of the crisis, Palestinian from Syria have sought refuge in Lebanon, placing a strain on the already over-crowded camps that suffer from chronically decaying infrastructure, contaminated water, and unsafe conditions.
Oxfam in Lebanon
Oxfam has been working in Lebanon since 1993. We provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people affected by conflict, and we promote economic development, promotion of good governance at a local and national level, and women’s rights through our work with our partners. Oxfam also works with local partners to contribute to the protection and empowerment of marginalized women and men.
Oxfam in Lebanon developed a 5-year strategy to achieve our vision: marginalized women and men in Lebanon (Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian populations, including refugees) are protected and empowered to enjoy their basic rights and access services enabling them to live in dignity within a more equitable society. The strategy will be implemented through three programmes: Humanitarian programme, Economic justice programme, and Active citizenship and good governance programme.
We have scaled up the activities in response to the Syria crisis, providing water and sanitation improvements, and emergency cash assistance for refugees and poor Lebanese, helping refugees with legal protection issues, and supporting small businesses and private-sector job creation. Oxfam is currently working in North Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and in Palestinian camps and gatherings, through the three programmes:
Aims to empower marginalized women and men, including refugees, to meet their basic needs and uphold their basic rights in the face of current and future shocks. The program supports civil society organizations, local and national structures to provide protection and services, particularly ensuring dignified and sustainable access to WaSH, as one of the mounting needs among refugees and hosting communities.
Aims to empower marginalized women and men, especially youth, to cope with the effects of economic poverty, and to have greater access to and control over livelihood assets for sustainable poverty reduction and reduced aid dependency. The program promotes greater resilience and social stability in areas affected by the refugee crisis including informal tented settlements (ITSs) and Palestinian camps.
Aims to influence the Government power- holders to become more accountable and effective. The programme supports civil society, in particular youth, to be able to influence decision-making processes by the engagement with governmental authorities and informal powerholders to promote a more enabling environment for local participation.