×

Search form

Five Syrian girls sitting in a school in Lebanon holding papers and pencils.
Breaking point

Lebanon Crisis Watch

The International Rescue Committee provides support to Syrian refugees struggling to get by in Lebanon and the resource-strapped Lebanese communities hosting them. We are also responding to the recent explosion in Beirut.

Beirut: 150,000 women and girls displaced following blast

  • An estimated 150,000 women and girls have been displaced as a result of the explosion that devastated Beirut on August 4. This exposes them to a greater risk of sexual violence, exploitation and abuse.

  • As Lebanon faces a dire economic crisis, IRC analysis suggests that 30,000 women were already unemployed, and that the compunding crises of the blast COVID-19 will leave many to skip meals, incur debt, and use other negative coping strategies.

  • Before the explosion, IRC teams were already seeing increases in the number of children—including girls—working in the street in Lebanon, as well as those engaged in other forms of child labor. The risk of forced marriage for girls may also rise.

  • The IRC is currently working with local partner organizations to provide immediate cash and protection assistance, including psychological first aid, to those impacted and displaced by the blast.

Read about our response
Country facts
  • Total population: 4.4 million
  • People displaced by crisis: 1.5 million Syrians (1 in 4 people)
  • Rank in Human Development Index: 80 of 188
IRC response
  • Started work in Lebanon: 2012
  • People assisted in 2018: 84,000

Lebanon crisis briefing

1.5 million Syrians have fled to Lebanon since the onset of the Syrian war in 2011. The IRC provides emergency and long-term services for Syrians and the struggling Lebanese communities hosting them.

See all

What caused the current crisis in Lebanon?

Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Lebanon has taken in some 1.5 million Syrians who fled their homes for safety.

With no formal refugee camps in Lebanon, Syrians are living in cramped apartments, unfinished building, and tents. Currently, humanitarian services are unable to keep up with needs as refugees deplete their resources.

The IRC is concerned that the needs of the most vulnerable, including refugees, will go unmet as Lebanon's capital, Beirut struggles to recover from the impact of the Aug. 4, 2020 explosion, even as it faces a COVID-19 crisis. 

What are the main humanitarian challenges in Lebanon?

The vast majority of Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in extreme poverty. Meanwhile, host communities, many of them already poor, have seen living conditions deteriorate in their neighborhoods.

Displaced women and girls are at increased risk of violence and exploitation in daily life, and many cannot access the services and support they need.

How does the IRC help in Lebanon?

The IRC’s mission is to provide emergency aid and other support to refugees living in unsafe conditions. The IRC also assists vulnerable communities that host refugees.

We began our work in Lebanon in 2012 as people began fleeing the violence that has been ravaging Syria for the last eight years. We have been providing economic support, legal services, education and protection for the most vulnerable, including the elderly and people with disabilities. The IRC is working in all areas of the country to support refugee and host communities by:

  • operating classrooms and teacher training programs for thousands of Syrian children;
  • providing Syrian refugees with cash assistance for basic needs;
  • providing safe spaces for women and girls to gather, share information and receive emotional support, crisis counseling and social worker assistance;
  • providing children with creative learning and therapeutic activities to help them recover from trauma and avoid working out in the streets;
  • providing refugees and local communities with skills training, small business development and job placement;
  • providing legal and information to refugees to help them access services and exercise their right to international protection.

We also launched an emergency response to provide immediate cash and economic assistance to those impacted and displaced by the Aug 4, 2020 explosion in Beirut.

What still needs to be done?

The crisis has pushed thousands of refugees into poverty and continues to threaten their long-term social and economic health, which makes the IRC’s work in Lebanon is more critical than ever. We pledge to put the needs of those most affected by crisis at the forefront of our efforts and to achieve measurable improvements in safety, empowerment, education, and economic well-being. Here’s a closer look at some of the work we will be doing over the next few years to achieve our goals.

A Syrian refugee girl in a makeshift shelter in Akkar, Lebanon. Photo: Peter Biro/IRC

We will continue to support Syrians who have been forced from their homes, as well as underserved Lebanese. Over the next year, we will focus on the following areas:

Safety

As a leader in protection, the IRC will strengthen our efforts to stop child labor, identify violations of refugee rights, and provide legal services to those in need.

We will also address the special needs of street children and women and girls at risk for abuse and isolation.

Power

We will increase our efforts to empower refugees and improve their quality of life. We will work to strengthen relationships between host and refugee communities through dialogue and problem-solving. We will also improve local capacity to provide social services by building local and national systems in case management and in family and labor law.

Education

The IRC will launch early childhood education services to help refugee children succeed in Lebanese public schools.

Economic wellbeing

The IRC will provide more skills training and create new partnerships with businesses that hire refugees.

We will also help women and girls achieve equality with men and boys.

Download the IRC Lebanon strategy action plan to learn more about our program priorities through 2020.

News and features

Press releases