Australians stand united with Lebanon as crisis escalates

Volunteers distribute aid in Beirut. Photo by Caritas Lebanon.

Lebanon is currently facing its biggest humanitarian crisis yet. The financial situation in the Middle Eastern nation has been unfolding for more than two years and has progressively worsened.  According to the World Bank, the country has been plunged into what may be one of the three worst economic crises the world has seen in the past 150 years, after hyperinflation in the country has drastically devalued the Lebanese Lira.  

The prices of basic goods and services have skyrocketed out of control, leaving the people of Lebanon struggling to pay for essential goods and services. People now pay up to 20 times more for essentials, while many are living on decreased salaries. Families are increasingly unable to afford housing, education, health care, transportation and food. Over one million Syrian and Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon are also at risk, with more than 90% living under the poverty line.  

Additionally, the country continues its efforts to rebuild after the devastating explosion that took place in Beirut in August 2020. The blast killed more than 200 people, injured more than 7,500, left about 300,000 homeless, and occurred in the midst of the economic crisis and as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded.  

The poverty rate has nearly doubled from 42% in 2019 to 82% in 2021 (UN - Multidimensional Poverty rate), and the World Food Program (WFP) estimates that food prices in Lebanon have risen by 628% in just two years - leaving many families unable to cope with increased prices, debt and reduced income.  

Widespread fuel shortages have also affected the country, and have had disastrous impacts on the population.  

“Petrol prices have skyrocketed by an astonishing 1000% and cooking gas by 955% since the beginning of this year. Today, 20 litres of petrol are worth nearly half of the legal minimum wage, which means that it’s become almost unaffordable to commute to work or transport children to school.”

Aloysius Canete

“Petrol prices have skyrocketed by an astonishing 1000% and cooking gas by 955% since the beginning of this year. Today, 20 litres of petrol are worth nearly half of the legal minimum wage, which means that it’s become almost unaffordable to commute to work or transport children to school”, said Caritas Australia’s Global Humanitarian Lead, Aloysius Canete.  

“Generators are widely used in Lebanon as a backup for inconsistent public supply of electricity, so now it’s not just households, but even hospitals and other vital services that are forced to ration electricity because they can’t afford to run the generators. This is a serious concern as winter can get very cold, and households may be unequipped to survive the snow without electricity to run heating”, he added. 

The crisis has extended to numerous aspects of the country’s economy. For instance, Lebanon’s healthcare system has taken a hit, with several hospitals currently facing a shortage of equipment and medications. The education system has also been affected, as the number of children out of school continue to rise daily, making them more vulnerable to child labour or early marriage. 

“The ongoing crisis in Lebanon has critically affected many facets of the country. It has notably manifested itself in rising deprivation of health care, medicines, services, education, employment, housing and assets,” said Alphonse Ayrout, Program Development Manager at Caritas Lebanon.   

“A very large percentage of the local population, including refugees from Syria and other parts of the world currently residing in Lebanon, are experiencing food insecurity and are unable to access basic goods and services. Food prices are out of reach for most, and retailers are facing serious challenges to restock and keep their businesses afloat.”  

Thanks to your generosity and support Caritas Australia has been able to support Caritas Lebanon in offering support to the country’s most vulnerable people and those affected by this multi-faceted crisis to meet their acute needs in terms of healthcare, education, protection and livelihoods.  

Assistance Provided

More than 3,700

hygiene kits provided

Nearly 8,000 

food kits distributed to households

Over 245,800

hot meals distributed to those in need

Over 1,500

individuals were provided with psychological first aid

More than 500

injured provided with medical first aid

Approximately 72,800

medicines distributed to patients

More than 7,700

medical consultations

Over 1,700

houses assessed for damage and 1,300 have been renovated

Caritas Lebanon trying to assist vulnerable communities in meeting their basic needs through providing essential primary and secondary health services, access to quality education, and emergency cash assistance that can answer to urgent protection needs and concern. It is also aiming to support shelters that provide safe spaces and counselling for high-risk individuals. 

To provide support to Lebanon, please donate to the Caritas Australia Middle East Regional Appeal.