Aid agencies launch ‘common cards’ to facilitate access to humanitarian assistance in Lebanon

The World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Lebanon Cash Consortium (LCC) on the 1st of December signed a Memorandum of Understanding putting into effect the use of a new, first-of-its-kind common card that unifies the way aid is delivered and simplifies refugee access to humanitarian assistance.

With the introduction of the common card, economically vulnerable refugees will benefit from various humanitarian programmes through a single medium.

“The common card system will facilitate access to assistance for Syrian refugees, and enhance the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of aid delivery” said Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon. “UN agencies and the Lebanon Cash Consortium have come together in a much-needed effort to make the delivery of aid as straightforward as can be for vulnerable refugees in Lebanon.” Aid agencies aim to reach 900,000 individuals in need by the end of the year.

Through the common card, refugees will have access to food assistance, monthly multi-purpose cash transfers, support to help refugee children enroll and stay in school, winter assistance from November through March, and / or protection cash to help refugees in periods of severe distress. Using the same card, refugees can redeem their food assistance in any of WFP’s 480 contracted shops or withdraw regularly uploaded funds at any ATM machine across Lebanon.

Before the introduction of the common card, eligible refugees had to use more than one card and report to various distribution points to receive assistance.

During a distribution of the new cards in Jdeideh last month, Ayman, a 35-year-old Syrian refugee said the common card will make life easier for many refugees in Lebanon. “It is also great that all agencies are present during the distributions. We always have questions and distributions like these are an opportunity for us to get answers,” he said.

The common card will help streamline communication with the over one million Syrian refugees currently spread across 2,000 locations in Lebanon. WFP, UNICEF, UNHCR and the LCC have started the joint distribution of the cards, and will launch a common call centre for refugees seeking information. Joint awareness sessions about the purpose and usage of the card are also taking place during distributions across Lebanon.

The inter-agency cash programme has provided a welcome boost to local businesses by transforming refugees from aid recipients to active consumers. Refugees purchase their needs locally, be it food, fuel, or clothes; in addition to paying rent, funneling the cash they receive back into the local economy.


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