Context and key challenges
Seven years into the Syrian conflict, Lebanon remains at the forefront of one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time and has shown exceptional commitment and solidarity to people displaced by the war in Syria.
As of October 2017, the Government of Lebanon (GoL) estimates that the country hosts 1.5 million Syrians who have fled the conflict in Syria (including 997,905 million registered as refugees with UNHCR), along with 34,000 Palestine Refugees from Syria (PRS), 35,000 Lebanese returnees, and a pre-existing population of more than 277,985 Palestine Refugees in Lebanon (PRL). The vulnerabilities of each of these groups have different root causes, requiring the overall response strategy to include a multifaceted range of interventions from emergency aid to development assistance. Nearly half of the Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian populations affected by the crisis are children and adolescents: at least 1.4 million children under 18 are currently growing up at risk, deprived, and with acute needs for basic services and protection. Public services are overstretched, with demand exceeding the capacity of institutions and infrastructure to meet needs. The service sectors are also overburdened, with the public health sector accumulating debt as displaced Syrian patients are unable to cover their part of the bill.
The conflict in Syria has significantly impacted Lebanon’s social and economic growth, caused deepening poverty and humanitarian needs, and exacerbated pre-existing development constraints in the country. Moreover, at the end of 2015, the crisis had cost the Lebanese economy an estimated US$18.15 billion due to the economic slowdown, loss in fiscal revenues and additional pressure on public services.
Unemployment and high levels of informal labour were already a serious problem pre-crisis, with the World Bank suggesting that the Lebanese economy would need to create six times as many jobs just to absorb the regular market entrants.
Unemployment is particularly high in some of the country’s poorest localities: in some areas, it is nearly double the national average, placing considerable strain on host communities. Long-standing inequalities are deepening and tensions at local level have been rising during the course of 2017, mostly over perceived competition for jobs and access to resources and services. The economic downturn has had a disproportionate effect on young people and others who are entering the workforce: Lebanon’s youth unemployment rates are three to four times higher than the overall unemployment rate.
The assistance made possible by donor contributions and implemented by aid partners under the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP), along with the exceptional hospitality of Lebanese communities, has brought substantial, vitally-needed support across all sectors and has prevented an even worse deterioration of living conditions for the poorest groups. Achievements under the LCRP include support to Lebanese roads, water and waste infrastructure; a wide range of initiatives helping local municipalities implement priority projects for their communities; extensive cash assistance that has brought life-saving support to the poorest groups while boosting the local economy; support to health centres and hospitals around the country; and substantial advances in helping the Government of Lebanon enrol greater numbers of children in schools every year. However, despite these achievements, the needs are growing and continue to outstrip resources and renewed support is essential. The prolonged crisis is having an ever-stronger impact on Syrian, Palestinian and vulnerable Lebanese households, as well as on the Lebanese host population and country’s institutions and infrastructure.
The LCRP, a joint plan between the Government of Lebanon and its international and national partners, aims to respond to these challenges in a holistic, comprehensive manner through longer-term, multiyear planning in order to achieve the following Strategic Objectives: ensure the protection of displaced Syrians, vulnerable Lebanese and Palestine refugees; provide immediate assistance to vulnerable populations; strengthen the capacity of national and local service delivery systems to expand access to and quality of basic public services; and reinforce Lebanon’s economic, social and environmental stability. To achieve this goal, the LCRP seeks to set out an integrated strategy centred on needs which recognizes the interrelatedness and beneficial impact of the activities undertaken in the different sectors on the individual’s protection and dignity. It is critical that the response maintain a strong focus on humanitarian assistance to all vulnerable communities, but also, in line with the commitments made at the London and Brussels conferences, strongly and continuously seek to expand investments, partnerships and delivery models that ensure recovery and social stability whilst enabling progress towards longer-term development strategies.
The LCRP also aims to increase the focus on aid coordination under the general leadership, guidance and supervision of the Government of Lebanon, through the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) that has the legal mandate to oversee the response to the crisis; in partnership with the donor community, UN agencies, Civil Society Actors including NGOs, the private sector, academic institutions; and to promote transparency, enhanced coordination, tracking, accountability, efficiency and learning through reinforced and objective monitoring and evaluation.
It is essential for the international community to strengthen its cooperation with, and development support to Lebanon, to respond to the mass influx of displaced persons from Syria. This is in line with the shared responsibility to manage large movements of refugees that was acknowledged by all states in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants of September 2016, its Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and together with Lebanon’s Statement of Intent at the London Conferencev and A vision for Stabilization and Development in Lebanon presented at the Brussels Conference in 2017.vi One of the LCRP partners’ key priorities in Lebanon is helping to mobilize increased financial resources to support the country’s national institutions, as a critical way to meet growing needs, mitigate a further deterioration of the situation and preserve the social stability in the country.
Thus, this medium-term plan aims to address national objectives and priorities for responding to the impact of the Syrian crisis in Lebanon through an overarching four-year strategic planning framework developed and implemented under the leadership of MoSA in collaboration with the UN, national and international NGOs, other civil society actors and the donor community.
The LCRP is founded on a needs-based, bottom up and cross-sectoral approach, and as such requires adaptation as changes in the context occur. Yearly appeals are developed based on an annual review of needs: each document will include detailed targets and budgets for the current year, along with indicative figures for the following year where feasible. This document therefore outlines the updated sector response plans for 2018, based on results achieved within the LCRP in 2017 and an analysis of remaining gaps for 2018 – 2020.
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