Population: 6.8 Million
Development Context: Refugee population, urban, high density
Refugee Population: 1.5 Million (Syrian) 475,075 (Palestinian, UNRWA) 18,000 (Iraqi, Sudanese and other)

**Beirut, Lebanon is in a state of emergency.**

After the colossal explosion that took place yesterday in Beirut, the death toll has risen to over 130 people and an estimated 5,000 more are injured. We must act NOW.


  • Lebanon is host to the largest number of refugees per capita [1]
  • About a third of Lebanese citizens live in poverty [2]
  • 27.4% of Lebanon’s total resident population is youth (aged 15-29)
  • 24% of these youth are Syrian, 5% are Palestinian and the remaining 71% are Lebanese or of other nationalities[3]

Key Issues

  • Lebanon’s public finances, service delivery, and the environment are strained by the effect of the Syrian refugee crisis, where 1.5 million Syrians, about a quarter of the Lebanese population, have taken refuge in Lebanon since the conflict erupted in March 2011. [4]
  • Lebanon is suffering from a severe economic collapse, and now more than half of the Lebanese population lives below the poverty line.
  • As COVID-19 continues to tear through Lebanon and cities are put into lockdown, thousands of people have lost their only source of income. On top of the economic situation, it is essentially becoming impossible for people to afford essential items.

Lebanon is at great risk for a food crisis. Both the Human Rights Watch and the World Bank are predicting that over half of Lebanese households may not be able to afford to purchase food by the end of the year. A full collapse of the Lebanese pound has left thousands of Lebanese unemployed, desperate, and hungry. More than 220,000 jobs in the private sector have been lost since mid-October, and the unrest among the people has reached its boiling point.

Wejdan Jarrah, UMR’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Representative

  • BREAKING NEWS: On August 4, 2020 there were massive explosions in Beirut, Lebanon. Hospitals have been damaged and are being forced to turn patients away as they reach capacity.
  • More than 130 people are dead, at least 5,000 are injured, and thousands of people are still missing.

  • The country does not have the bandwidth to help all of its citizens – they are relying on humanitarian organizations like us to help them during this incredibly difficult time.

Current Situation

  • On October 17, 2019, protests erupted in Lebanon in response to the dire economic situation.
  • The country suffers from long-running shortages in government-provided electricity and water as well as a trash that began in 2015.
  • Many Lebanese cannot find job opportunities, and are living in extreme poverty due to the high cost of living and constant political strife.
  • Many people live in sub-standard living conditions, and cannot afford to pay their rent.
  • Medical costs and high prices of medicine mean that many people skip doctor visits.
  • With the ongoing demonstrations, many business have closed, people have lost their jobs or are going months without pay due to a shortage of U.S. dollars in the country’s banks.
  • Inflation of goods, the scarcity of basic commodities and fuel, and the devaluation of the Lebanese currency has left people on the brink of desperation.


  • BREAKING NEWS, CONTINUED: Regarding the explosion in Beirut; while we don’t know the extent of the casualties, some outlets are reporting that at least 10 have been killed and hundreds– if not thousands– more have been injured. As the situation continues to unfold, it is certain that those numbers will rise.

UMR Response

  • UMR has been working in Lebanon for years, providing cash assistance, food parcels, fresh meat, and medical assistance to the poorest areas of the country. In fact, UMR just recently completed its Qurbani distribution in Lebanon and has been routinely providing families with essential food items since the protests began back in October 2019.
  • We will continue to respond to the unfolding situation regarding the economic collapse and COVID-19.
  • Regarding the explosions, UMR is currently running an emergency campaign to provide emergency medical kits to the hospitals in Beirut as they become overwhelmed with patients.
  • UMR Lebanon applies a holistic approach to address the regional refugee crisis in the whole of the Middle East. Our objective is to alleviate poverty for refugees and host communities so that they are able to live with dignity and to be resilient/self-reliant.
  • As such, our cross-cutting seasonal programs aim to shoulder the burden of the Lebanese government as a refugee-host country.


[1] http://reporting.unhcr.org/sites/default/files/UNHCR%20Lebanon%20Fact%20Sheet%20-%20February%202019.pdf
[2] https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/WFP-0000111565.pdf
[4] https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/lebanon/overview

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