Lebanon: Meeting the humanitarian needs and upholding the basic rights of both the refugee and host community
Lebanon is home to the highest concentration of refugees per capita in the world - a figure which includes some 1.5 million people exiled from Syria. For a country dealing with its own crisis, the cracks have quickly begun to show. Today, 1.5 million Lebanese citizens live below the poverty line - in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Against a backdrop of civil unrest, the collapse of the economy and already fractured public services, has seen much of the blame fall at the feet of the burgeoning refugee population. A breakdown of the social fabric is manifest.
Low-income Lebanese families carry deep-seated resentment towards Syrian and Palestinian refugees for 'stealing' jobs and resources. On the flip side, life for refugees and migrant workers - who mostly inhabit one of twelve refugee camps - is marked by fear, hostility and exclusion. Confined to hard labour in limited sectors, there are few options. In a clear culmination of lost patience, new arrivals have been denied registration. Now, 'invisible' in the system, these groups have become extremely vulnerable to abuse and are in urgent need of protection.
Lebanon has a population of 6.7 million people
Almost half of Lebanon is living below the poverty line
In 2022 23,647 people took part in our programmes
What we do in Lebanon
We work across all corners of Lebanon to deliver a vital combination of emergency humanitarian aid, psychosocial support and community-based protection. Our programmes also focus on entrepreneurial skills training to give both refugees and Lebanese people tangible prospects and hope for the future. We firmly believe in the merits of localisation. That's why we prioritise the continuous development of community-owned structures - designed to function with or without our presence.
For more information about our programmes visit the website of our local operating partner, Tabitha.
Led by Mary's Meals - we provide children from both the refugee and host population with one school meal every school day. The programme serves to reduce chronic hunger as well as school dropout rates. We also deliver food supplies - including food vouchers - to vulnerable households in local communities and refugee camps; all with the aim to increase access to healthy and nutritional options.
We provide entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills training to help marginalised refugee and local women become self-sufficient and support their families. Besides the monetary benefits, our programmes also help women and youth 'keep busy' and find purpose - contributing to a decline in acute stress and depression.
Our psychosocial support programmes - together with our network of community centres - give vulnerable individuals the space to deal with trauma and build a better future. Isolated refugee parents are invited to share their struggles in a group forum and work together to find solutions. The prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is key - through awareness-raising sessions and free legal services we educate women and girls on their fundamental rights.
Reconciliation and Recovery
We organise group conversations and training sessions that see the Syrian refugee and Lebanese host population come together to resolve tensions. These sessions focus on intergenerational activities and calendar highlights (e.g. Mother's Day celebration) that remove barriers, promote tolerance and reject stereotypes - all with the aim to reduce conflicts and foster mutual support systems.
Dorcas Community Centres - Salvation in War
The total population of Lebanon has doubled in size since the war in Syria - where, today, Syrian refugees make up a third of the population. Despite escaping the escalating violence at home, peace and security are still a long way off for the Syrian people. And they are not alone. The deteriorating economic situation across Lebanon has created major tensions between host communities and vulnerable arrivals of also Palestinian and Iraqi origin.
In overcrowded refugee camps and troubled host communities, women and children face a number of acute threats to their safety and wellbeing including early marriage, forced labour and abduction. Parents stripped of their fundamental rights and in a constant state of limbo struggle to shield their children from such fates - leading to high rates of distress and feelings of hopelessness.
Meet our Country Director...
Najla Chahda - Country Director Lebanon
"Breaking the taboo around psychosocial support is of utmost importance in Lebanon. I know this because I have lived through an armed attack on my own village. If you have seen your children being raped or your father or neighbour shot, you are walking around with trauma. Being reduced to a refugee and living in a tent without basic items is also a form of trauma. Dorcas is training local people to provide psychosocial support, which is a huge step forward. Mental health care also comes down to genuine compassion. If people with a past like this live in your area, invite them over for a cup of coffee or ask their children to play with your children. This is the societal change that I hope to see in my lifetime."
- Palestinian Women Humanitarian Organisation (PWHO)
- Migration for Services and Development (MSD)
- Druze Women Association
- Daughters of Charity/Saint Vincent de Paul Center
- Ghazir and Ain el Remaneh
- Messages de Paix
- LSBD (Lebanese school for the blind and deaf)
- Rotary club of Baabda
Strategic Partners and Donors
- Mary's Meals Foundation
- Social Development Centers of Ministry of Social Affairs
- Mission East
- Dutch Relief Alliance
- Christian Emergency Aid Cluster (Christelijk Noodhulp Cluster)
- Terre des Hommes (Italy)
- World Vision
- Expertise France
- World Food Programme (WFP)
- Netherlands Red Cross
- International rescue committee
Contact Dorcas Lebanon
Baabda (near main entrance of hospital Sacre Coeur, next to EBL)
+961 25 954461
+961 25 954462