As part of an overall UN approach, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and its partners launched the annual winter assistance program aiming to reach thousands of vulnerable Lebanese and refugee families in Lebanon. The nationwide campaign will provide lifesaving and essential aid and relief items to help families in need to cope with the harsh winter weather.
With the ongoing economic downturn, this year’s support program has been scaled up. UNHCR mobilized its field offices across Lebanon to work closely with local authorities, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and religious institutions in order to identify and reach the most vulnerable Lebanese families, and deliver different types of much-needed relief, depending on the families’ needs. Over 20,000 Lebanese families across Lebanon will benefit from this support.
UNHCR Representative in Lebanon Mireille Girard said: “Winter is harsh for everyone. In times of hardship, it is important to mobilize all our efforts to ensure that no family in need – whoever they are – is left behind this winter. As winter sets in, we are racing around the clock to make sure that the most vulnerable individuals in Lebanon can keep safe, warm and protected from diseases this winter.”
UNHCR will also provide support to public hospitals across Lebanon in the form of a fuel grant to ensure that the hospitals remain functional and heated amidst extreme weather conditions. Primary healthcare clinics will also receive stocks of acute medication.
Jeanette, an 83-year-old Lebanese woman living in Zahle, said: “When it snows here, we shiver with cold. You see how expensive things are.” She added: “With this assistance, I can now buy fuel for the house. I currently have none.’’
The situation of many Syrian refugees, who are spending yet another winter in exile, is also critical. With over three-quarters of Syrian refugees under the poverty line in Lebanon, living on less than LBP 6,000 (US$ 3.8) per day, winter support helps the most vulnerable families survive. Nine out of ten families are indebted and unable to cover their essential needs. During winter, their situation is exacerbated by harsh weather conditions, when they need to find resources for heating and medicine for the children.
UNHCR and partners will provide winter aid to thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugee families living below the poverty line. The program prioritizes those vulnerable families who receive no other support throughout the year.
For more information, please contact:
Lisa Abou Khaled, [email protected], +961 71 880 070
NOTES FOR EDITORS
UNHCR partners: UNHCR works together with partners to make this assistance available to the most vulnerable Lebanese and refugee families. These partners across Lebanon include Caritas, Arcenciel, Ghirass organization, Dar Al Fatwa, Melkite (Greek Catholic) Church in Zahle, Muftis, public hospitals, Caritas, Makhzoumi Foundation, Empowerment Through Integration, FAID, Santa Maria Shelter, ASA, the Aging house, Sesobel, NRDC, SHEILD and FDA.
Details on programs per region
UNHCR will distribute fuel cards to 8,265 vulnerable Lebanese families across the Bekaa region, pre-position 4,500 blankets in 16 key municipalities and local partners and support grassroot initiatives to distribute fuel, food and clothes to needy families by local NGOs and faith-based agencies. The Lebanese families we aim to reach include older persons, widows and persons with specific needs. UNHCR is also supporting 5 public hospitals and more than 10 primary health clinics in the Bekaa to maintain hospital and clinics functionality such a generating electricity and heating.
In the North, UNHCR and partners will provide cash assistance to vulnerable Lebanese families including older persons, women at risk, children at risk, and families with socio-economic vulnerabilities. Through this assistance, over 7,750 families will receive USD 200 (LBP 300,000) through Caritas’ existing payment delivery mechanisms.
Some 3,941 Lebanese families in Beirut and Mount Lebanon will be assisted through cash interventions and specialized assistance to persons with disabilities:
Through Caritas and Makhzoumi Foundation and other partners (ASA, Sesobel, FAID, AMEL, Caritas, ABAAD, Himaya, FDA, Restart and HELEM), over 2,716 beneficiaries will be identified and will receive a one-time cash payment for a total of USD 200 (LBP 300,000).
1,225 Lebanese with disabilities will benefit from specialized services. Arcenciel will provide wheelchairs and mobility devices for 1,145 adults and children with physical disabilities, while transportation allowance will be covered for 80 children with intellectual disabilities through Sesobel, FDA, and FAID.
A total of 3,140 vulnerable Lebanese families will be identified. The distribution will be done through local partner SHEILD, and each family will be provided with fuel cards topped up with USD 200 (LBP 300,000) to be redeemed from a designated supplier.
Institutions including public hospitals will receive fuel equivalent to their respective capacity.
During the winter period, improper drainage within residential and substandard buildings, and reduced drainage and blockages in the irrigation canals along the coast of South Lebanon often causes flooding within and outside residential buildings. UNHCR, through SHEILD, will deliver high powered pumps to the affected Unions of Municipalities, aiming at providing immediate and effective relief during flooding, thereby reducing pressures on LRC and Civil Defense during the next winter. To avoid overflow and flooding during the winter, UNHCR will also support with cleaning canals.
On winter assistance for refugee families:
According to the Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (VASyR), 73% of the Syrian refugee families in Lebanon live below the poverty line of USD 3.84 per capita a day. They are unable to cover their basic survival needs such as food, health and shelter. Consequently, there are increased protection risks and exposure to negative coping mechanisms such as child labour, early marriages or begging.
Every winter, UNHCR and partners provide seasonal assistance to the most vulnerable refugee and Lebanese families to help them keep warm and dry and survive the harsh winter elements.
The most vulnerable refugee families receive winter assistance in the form of cash to help them provide for their most essential needs, and to avoid sacrificing food or medicine money for heating. The program covers the period of November through March, and eligible vulnerable families receive a one-off cash grant (the equivalent of LBP 112,000 per family per month), to help them cover additional needs during cold winter months, including fuel to keep warm, medicine, clothes, and food. The number of months varies per family depending on their level of vulnerability.