Inflammation and stories on Lebanon

Nonprofits Helping Syrian Refugees

The Syrian civil war has been ongoing since 2011, making the Syrian refugee population the world’s largest group forcibly displaced from their country. At the end of 2018, there were 13 million refugees from Syria, accounting for more than half of the country’s total population. The vast majority of Syrian refugees in Lebanon (70 percent) and Jordan (90 percent) are living below the poverty line. Fortunately, a number of groups are stepping in to deliver humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. Keep reading to learn more about these three nonprofits helping Syrian refugees.

3 Nonprofits Helping Syrian Refugees

  1. Sunrise USA – Founded in 2011, Sunrise USA is a nonprofit organization focused on providing humanitarian assistance for Syrians in need whether they still live in the country or not. The group is focused on sustainable development in areas including education and health care.
    • Health Care With help from donations, Sunrise USA built a full-time clinic in the Tayba camp in Syria, as well as a clinic in Istanbul and a polyclinic in Rihanli, Turkey. The organization has also established 22 trauma care facilities in Syria.
    • Education As of 2018, around 5.8 million children and youth in Syria were in need of education assistance. About 2.1 million of them were out of school completely. Sunrise USA has built four schools and provided books and supplies to students and families around refugee camps. In 2015, Sunrise USA was a lead sponsor in the creation of the Al-Salam School which had 1,200 students.
    • Care for Orphans The number of Syrian orphans, both in Syria and neighboring countries, has increased to more than 1 million since 2011. Through Sunrise USA’s orphan sponsorship, hundreds of orphans have been provided with food, clothing, education and medicine.
  2. Doctors Without Borders (DWB) – Officially founded in 1971, the organization’s core belief is that “all people have the right to medical care regardless of gender, race, religion, creed, or political affiliation, and that the needs of these people outweigh respect for national boundaries.” Here’s a look at DWB’s efforts to help Syrian refugees:
    • Jordan – In 2017, Jordan closed off the border connecting the country to Syria and in 2018 canceled all subsidized health care for Syrian refugees. Doctors Without Borders has three clinics in Irbid, Jordan that focus on non-communicable diseases, which are the leading causes of death in the region. In 2018, the organization provided 69,000 outpatient consultations, 11,900 individual mental health consultations and 2,690 assisted births.
    • Lebanon – Shatila refugee camp in South Beirut is home to Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese people living in poor and overcrowded conditions with minimal services. Doctors Without Borders has set up both a primary health care center and a women’s center inside the camp in 2013. The organization also launched a vaccination campaign around the camp, opened a mental health support branch in a clinic in Fneideq, offer family planning and mental health care services in the Burj-al-Barajneh refugee camp, and operate a care program in Ein-al-Hilweh refugee camp for patients with mobility issues.

Concern Worldwide US – Founded in 1968, Concern Worldwide works in the world’s poorest countries to provide emergency response, education, water and sanitation, as well as help communities develop resilience to higher impacting climates. The organization works to help Syrian refugees in a few ways:

    • Lebanon – Concern Worldwide is not only focused on creating “collection centers,”–which are multi-family shelters–but also on improving water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in the highly concentrated refugee areas of the country. The organization has provided assistance for 56,000 refugees and is also helping hundreds of children get access to education.
    • Syria – Since 2014, Concern Worldwide has worked in Syria to tackle waterborne diseases by installing generators and chlorinated water sources and also providing hygiene supplies. The organization also provides basic necessities to Syrians by distributing food baskets and for families with access to markets, food vouchers.

– Jordan Miller
Photo: Flickr

Helping Syrian Refugees After Arriving
The Syrian refugee crisis has been ongoing for more than eight years since the civil war that started in 2011. More than 5 million people have fled Syria, while many more were displaced within Syria itself. Externally, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan have the highest proportion of Syrian refugees in the world. Since refugees often try to live in urban areas for better employment opportunities, they frequently struggle with financial resources and end up living below the poverty line. In response, domestic and international organizations are helping Syrian refugees after arriving in each of these three countries.

Lebanon

As of June 30, 2016, Lebanon had the most Syrian refugees relative to its population, which was about 173 refugees per 1,000 people, or a total of 1,035,700. Lebanon also hosts a high number of refugees compared to its GDP, equating to 20 refugees per $1 million in GDP. While Lebanon hosts a large number of refugees, it is struggling to provide for them. There are around a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, 70 percent of whom live below the poverty line. These refugees often have little to no financial resources, which leads them to live in crowded homes with other families in more than 2,100 communities.

One organization helping Syrian refugees in the country is the Lebanese Association for Development and Communication (LADC), which emerged to help both Palestinian and Syrian refugees. Its projects range from community-based projects to aid projects with both local and more than 500 international volunteers helping to establish more than 6,500 beneficiaries. One of its projects was the Paradise Wall, a community art project to smooth the integration process between 120 Syrian and Lebanese children by asking them to work together creatively to produce a wall full of designs.

Turkey

Turkey hosts the largest number of registered Syrian refugees – currently at 3.3 million. Authorities claim that there are more than 3 million Syrian refugees, but that they have not registered. This is because they see Turkey as a transit country or fear deportation. The fear of deportation comes from the fact that Turkey offers temporary protection status to Syrians instead of internationally-recognized refugee status. This increases the likelihood of Turkey deporting the refugees while avoiding the risk of receiving international renouncement for doing so. Most refugees attempt to settle in urban areas in these countries, as opposed to refugee camps where only 8 percent of registered Syrian refugees live.

In Turkey, the UNCHR, EU and WHO have come together to fund the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM), which is a multi-regional organization that does a wide variety of work to help Syrian refugees after arriving in Turkey. It has many projects ranging from legal counseling to psycho-social support for children through playful activities. One of its projects titled Women and Girls’ Safe Space emerged to offer training sessions on women’s reproductive health.

Jordan

Jordan is proportionally the second-largest host of the Syrian refugees, sheltering about 89 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants as of 2016. Fifty-one percent of these refugees are children and 4 percent are elderly, meaning that 55 percent are dependents who rely on the remaining 45 percent of adult, working-age Syrian refugees. Consequently, more than 80 percent of them live under the poverty line.

To deal with this, the Jordanian government has initialized formal processes to help them escape poverty. In 2017 alone, the country issued 46,000 work permits so that Syrian refugees work. Recently, in collaboration with UNHCR, the International Labor Organization (ILO) established an employment center, The Zaatari Office of Employment, in the biggest camp for Syrian refugees. By August 2017, around 800 refugees benefited from this center by registering official work permits in place of one-month leave permits.

While the Syrian refugee crisis is still ongoing, it is important to note that many are helping Syrian refugees to settle and integrate into their host societies. Many countries from all over the world are starting to resettle the refugees within their borders to lift off the burden of poverty and overcrowding in certain areas. People often recognize Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey for their willingness to take in large numbers of Syrian refugees, but this must not erase the work a variety of organizations are doing to help refugees after arriving in their new homes.

Nergis Sefer
Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in Lebanon
According to the 2018 Lebanon Economic Vision report, Lebanon’s economy has been stuck in a vicious cycle. Despite periods of prosperity, the economy has been highly unpredictable. Any substantial monetary influx is mostly channeled into less productive sectors and into financing a fiscally irresponsible administration. Combined with high levels of corruption and minimal legislative productivity, the resulting unhealthy business environment, second-rate infrastructure and poor development of Lebanon come as no surprise. Job creation and productivity are limited, hurting employment rates and continuing an economic cycle where no incremental wealth is generated. But can things change? 

Power and Electricity

Lebanon has consistently ranked in the top four worst world nations in terms of quality of electricity supply. The country even ranked as the last in the world in this segment from 2012 to 2014. The main electricity producer, Electricité du Liban, is so inconsistent that citizens are forced to purchase a private generator or subscribe to a different network. This means paying the double cost for electricity, and those who cannot afford this are sometimes forced to go without it for hours. However, the Ministry of Economy has presented a plan called the National Economic Vision 2025 to reform this sector and other sectors once and for all. The country aims to shrink non-technical losses by 2025 and to become more reliant on sustainable and renewable resources which would seriously impact the development of Lebanon.

Health Care

The Lebanese health care system is considered to be the best in the region and on-par with European quality standards, a good indicator of the development of Lebanon. Citizens boast a high average life expectancy and low neonatal mortality rates, as around 7.5 percent of GDP is allocated to health care expenditures. Nonetheless, a significant portion of the Lebanese population remains uninsured because of low wages and high insurance rates.

This commonly forces citizens to pay out-of-pocket fees for medical services. Despite these factors, Lebanon is on track to improve coverage and performance under new governance by the Ministry of Public Health. Under this new leadership, the sector will be driven by evidence-based decisions for monetary compensation, meaning more fiscal support goes to hospitals and patients who need it.

Education in Lebanon

Lebanon continues to invest 7.6 percent of GDP on education, a sector that is growing faster than the base economy itself. The country has one of the highest literacy rates in the Arab world. Academia is the sixth largest employer in the country, with about 161,000 employees. Nonetheless, while Lebanese universities continue to hold a strong reputation, the performance of the primary and secondary education system is declining. To combat this, the National Economic Vision plan proposes updates and enforcement of curriculum standards at the primary and tertiary level. Promoting Lebanese universities to attract international students, and increasing technological investments into this sector are also key factors for this plan.

Agriculture

Lebanon has approximately 658,000 hectares of biodiverse agricultural land that ensures the production of more than 60 types of crops and over 10 livestock products. In 2016, the agricultural sector contributed about 3 percent to GDP, or about $1.5 billion. However, over the past decade, growth has been particularly stagnant. The use of land for low-value crops, competition from imports, poor infrastructure and development of Lebanon and limited support for good farming practices are all contributing factors. Nonetheless, a plan to prioritize crops with high export growth potential and to finance technology to modernize farming would offer this sector the stability it is lacking. A focus on sustainable water practices is also a key concern.

Industry

Industry is a top contributor to the Lebanese economy, accounting for 10 percent of GDP and employing around 194,000 people. However, between 2010 and 2016, the sector had a steep decline in productivity, reducing its contribution to GDP by about 2 percent every year. This devastating decline can be attributed mainly to the poor quality and consistency of power supply and an unhealthy business climate.

To combat this decline, plans to expand the international market by adopting and enforcing compliance with industry quality standards has been detailed by the National Economic Vision plan. In addition, investing in specific subsectors that play on the country’s strengths, like jewelry or pharmaceuticals, would help grow the sector as a whole and ensure redevelopment.

Lebanon has distinct economic and social characteristics that could successfully be harnessed for positive change. The National Economic Vision 2025 proposes not only tools for rectification, but also hope for a better future. Investing in infrastructure in Lebanon, enforcing new fiscal rules and increasing revenue would generate job opportunities and stabilize a once volatile economy. A proposed strategy and plan would offer Lebanon a chance to become the prosperous nation it once was and improve quality of life for all of its citizens.

Natalie Abdou
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in Lebanon
In 2011, it was estimated that approximately 17 percent of Lebanon’s population suffered from a mental illness of some kind. Among them, 90 percent of people went untreated. Mental health in Lebanon was not always a priority. However, with rising issues of mental illness, the Lebanese government is finding new ways to combat the misconceptions and stigmas surrounding mental health.

Role of Education in Understanding Mental Health

According to two researchers from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon, there is a distinct difference in the perception of mental illness depending on education. People who had higher educational attainment, as well as higher socioeconomic status, were more likely to have positive attitudes towards mentally ill patients. On the other hand, people who lacked education due to lower socioeconomic status had a negative outlook towards mental illness.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health and socioeconomic factors cannot be separated from each other. Socioeconomic factors can hinder educational attainment, and this may limit the lack of awareness people have about mental health.

Lack of awareness perpetuates the stigma around mental illness which stops people from receiving treatment. It even prevents them from talking about their feelings as they fail to be validated by others. Another reason why mental illness goes untreated is that many cannot afford it.

New Programmes to Help Improve Mental Health in Lebanon

The perception of mental health in Lebanon is changing and getting better. Historically, mental illness was considered something that could be solved only by the private sector. This meant that mental health care was reserved for those that could afford it.

Over the years, the government has realized that any person in need of help should be able to access mental health care. So, while mental health care will remain in part in the private sector, the health ministry in Lebanon is creating various programmes to help those who cannot afford it.

In 2014, the Lebanese health ministry created the National Mental Health Programme. This programme works with WHO, UNICEF and the International Medical Corps in order to help those with mental illness in Lebanon. It aims to incorporate mental health into general medicine more completely. This will hopefully help eradicate some of the bias that exists. It will help make mental health part of the discourse.

The programme also aims to help vulnerable populations in Lebanon such as refugees, people in prison and survivors of war and torture. This will be a huge help to these communities because it will allow them to have access to mental health care which they did not have before. It will create the perception that mental health deserves to be taken care of.

The National Mental Health Programme organized events such as “Time to Talk” in 2018. It was a way to directly combat incorrect perceptions about mental health by simply talking about mental health under ordinary contexts. Another similar event was “Depression: Let’s Talk About It to Get Out of It”. It was held in 2017 in order to discuss rising depression rates and help people heal. “My Mental Health is My Right” which was organized in 2014 aimed to enforce the fact that mental health in Lebanon is important and that every person has a right to receive treatment.

Thus, with such advanced programmes and new developments, the future of mental health care in Lebanon looks bright. It is important to remove the stigma surrounding mental health to improve people’s well being and foster a healthier and happier society.

– Isabella Niemeyer
 Photo: Unsplash

Refugees in Lebanon

While the Syrian civil war and other conflicts in the Middle East continue to make international headlines, the refugee crisis caused by these conflicts has slowly faded from the public eye. Many countries around the world are now focused on more immediate internal problems. For Syria’s neighboring countries, though, the refugee crisis continues to be an impactful part of their society.

Lebanon is one of these countries. This country shares most of its land border with Syria, and this made it an obvious place for war refugees to flee. The government has allowed many to remain in the country. Estimates say that there are still more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and this is only part of the country’s refugee population.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Life for Syrian refugees in Lebanon today is complicated, to say at least. While they are allowed to stay within the country, a combination of unfriendly government policies and heavily-strained infrastructure mean that few can maintain a high quality of life. Residency laws are difficult to navigate, leaving many fearful of arrest and open to exploitation.

Good work is hard to find, and 71 percent of Syrian refugees live below the country’s poverty line. This lack of financial resources helps explain why more than 200,000 refugee children were kept out of school in 2016. This education gap will only lead to more economic vulnerability in the long term.

Compounding these difficulties is the legitimate strain that 1.5 million refugees put on a Lebanese population that totals only six million. The Lebanese residents of some host communities are outnumbered by refugees. Since the start of the crisis, government spending and debt have risen while GDP has dropped and expenses have mounted. The economic troubles have heightened perception of refugees as a drain on Lebanese society and many want them to return to Syria. Of course, many Syrians would like to return home as well, especially given the conditions in Lebanon.

With the war continuing to progress, though, the United Nations does not recommend that refugees return. President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, and his government continue to make returning difficult even for those that would like to take the chance. Beyond the obvious physical danger of the ongoing conflict, a strict military draft and the threat of property seizure for the many refugees who are left without formal documentation for their homes are harsh deterrents for many people.

Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

It’s important to note that Syrians are not the only refugees in Lebanon. A population of around 270,000 Palestinians has settled in a few dozen U.N. camps around the country. Many of these people (or even parents of these people) have been in Lebanon since the Palestinian war in 1948. Today, these camps are essentially considered permanent settlements, and their longevity is part of what has inspired a more aggressive governmental push to ensure that Syrian refugees are only settled temporarily.

Palestinians in Lebanon have always been considered a separate legal class, with restricted access to certain public facilities, educational paths, careers and job opportunities. Many are forced to take low-paying, informal jobs.

The Syrian crisis has made life even more difficult for them, as both refugee groups must now compete for the same undesirable jobs. In 2015, 23 percent of the Palestinian population in Lebanon was unemployed. That number was only 8 percent before the crisis. Conditions are even worse for the 33,000 Palestinians who were living in Syria and have since become refugees in Lebanon as 93 percent of these people are reliant on U.N. aid as their primary source of livelihood.

International Aid for Refugees

While international news has largely moved on from the crisis, international aid continues to be involved in Lebanon and other similarly-strained countries. Thousands of families receive aid from U.N. groups, nonprofit organizations and other groups like the World Bank, to supplement governmental support and their own limited personal resources.

These sources of aid can be effective at reducing poverty, but many have been geared at short term solutions so far. As budgets and international aid dry up, support for the refugees in Lebanon will likely be most effective if it focuses on the long term effects. Groups like Habitat for Humanity are hoping to improve living conditions by building new homes and renovating old buildings as well as water and sanitation facilities. The UNHCR also has plans to shore up Lebanese infrastructure as part of the international effort.

However, with the instability in the region and the ongoing pressure to return to Syria and Palestine mounting, permanent solutions may not be a winning political idea in Lebanon. Time will tell, but in the meantime, it is vitally important not to forget the millions of people- Syrians, Palestinians, Lebanese and others- who are still impacted by the Syrian refugee crisis.

– Josh Henreckson

Photo: Flickr

ASU Global
In the modern, globalized world, public research institutions are essential to innovation, knowledge creation and international development. With these functions at the forefront, research institutions can assist The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal 1, which is to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

Currently, 11 percent of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty, defined by The World Bank as living on less than $1.90 per day. Despite its persistence, poverty has decreased drastically since 1990, when 35 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Global poverty reduction has been aided by the efforts of higher educational institutions like Arizona State University’s International Development team.

ASU’s International Development Team

Arizona State University (ASU), a public research university, is one of the only U.S. universities that actively pursues funding opportunities in the international aid landscape. As part of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, ASU’s International Development team works to identify and provide solutions for complex challenges facing the developing world.

Stephen Feinson, associate vice president for ASU’s International Development team, told The Borgen Project that the primary objective of ASU’s International Development team is to, “[advance] a new model for university engagement with the developing world that collaboratively drives solutions to great development challenges through partnerships with local universities, governments, the private sector, and non-governmental entities.”

ASU International Development team is able to support and advance international development efforts with the assistance of its funding partners. Donors include USAID, U.S. Department of State, Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank. ASU also partners with implementing firms, such as Chemonics, Creative Associates, DAI, and IESC, and collaborates with over 100 universities worldwide to advance innovative solutions for the developing world.

ASU’s International Development team is currently involved in four development projects worldwide. These projects are:

  1. The US-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy (USPCAS-E) project was launched in 2015 and received an $18 million investment from USAID. In partnership with Pakistan’s National University for Science and Technology (NUST) and University of Engineering and Technology (UET), USPCAS-E works to create an energy research agenda for energy needs in Pakistan. Feinson told The Borgen Project, “to date, more than 136 students and faculty researchers […] have participated in the exchange program at ASU and subcontractor Oregon State University’s research labs working on energy-related projects.” Furthermore, “Over 30 master’s students have graduated from the center and have entered the energy workforce equipped to make an impact in Pakistan’s energy sector,” Feinson added.
  2. The Holistic Water Solutions project in Jordan and Lebanon received $2 million from USAID and serves refugee host communities by providing potable water to communities and household. “The project’s multifaceted approach includes community water desalination and purification kiosks equipped with on-grid/off-grid capacity, household air-to-water technology, entrepreneurial training for women and water demand management,” said Feinson.
  3. The Building University-Industry Learning and Development Through Innovation and Technology (BUILD-IT) project in Vietnam is the third major ASU project in Vietnam. Feinson told The Borgen Project that BUILD-IT is supported by USAID and aims to identify and respond to gaps in Vietnam’s technical workforce as well as build female empowerment.
  4. The Global Development Research (GDR) Scholars project allows ASU to support additional Research and Innovation Fellows through fundraising and cost sharing. Through The GDR Scholars Program, ASU provides fellowships to graduate students, encouraging collaboration and use-inspired research to improve conditions regarding The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Feinson told The Borgen Project, “since its inception in 2015, the program has placed 70 scholars in 25 USAID priority countries [where they] worked to identify and conduct projects in USAID-defined sectors related to health, education, economic security, biodiversity, human trafficking, gender, supply chain, energy, water, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The Goal of ASU’s International Development Team

According to Feinson, “ASU aims to become a global center for interdisciplinary research, discovery and development by 2025.” To reach this goal, ASU International Development team serves to establish ASU as a trusted partner for USAID, other funding agencies and donors, implementing firms and university partners.

The goals of ASU’s International Development team are to advance the New American University Model in the context of international development. Feinson said this model “offers ideas distinctly suited to the developing world, advancing use-inspired research that addresses epochal development challenges and scalable solutions tailored to the needs of developing countries.”

The efforts of ASU’s International Development team have already begun to make a difference in developing countries. For instance, their past successes include projects such as the Vocational Training and Education for Clean Energy (VOCTEC) in Vietnam, Liberia, Guyana, Kenya and South Pacific Island Nations; the India Support for Teacher Education Program (In-STEP) in India; the Higher Engineering Education Alliance Program (HEEAP) in Vietnam; and the Solucion El Salvador (SolucionES) in El Salvador.

The United Nations Development Programme is working hard to eradicate poverty. With an increasing number of U.S. higher educational institutions taking note of and emulating the successes of ASU’s International Development team, The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal 1 of eradicating extreme poverty can become reality.

– Kara Roberts

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Lebanon
The small, Middle Eastern nation of Lebanon has undergone development and overall economic growth despite the conflict between the nation and neighboring states. Although Lebanon has experienced an overall increase in economic power, the distribution of wealth is largely unequal, causing more issues of poverty in the country. In order to gain a better understanding of poverty and how it is affecting the country, below are the top 10 facts about poverty in Lebanon.

Top 10 Poverty Facts about Lebanon

  1. Lebanon’s economy has grown exponentially since the beginning of development, offering citizens job opportunities to increase the standard of living. In 1988, Lebanon had a GDP of $3.31 billion. As of 2017, the country’s economy exponentially rose to an estimated $49.60 billion, which ranks 82nd highest in the world.
  2. Although GDP has certainly increased in recent years, the rate of economic growth in Lebanon has fluctuated. In some years since faster development, Lebanon experienced as low as a 56 percent decrease in GDP due to political instability and global economic decline. Most recently, however, Lebanon maintains an approximately successful 2 percent GDP growth rate.
  3. The service industry is Lebanon’s overwhelming largest economic sector, with specialized jobs and tourism services continuing to increase. The service industry accounts for a majority of the GDP in Lebanon at an estimated 73.3 percent, while industry and agriculture comprise 21 percent and 5.7 percent of the GDP, respectively.
  4. The unemployment rate in Lebanon is relatively average due to financial and political issues in the country, with an estimated 6.3 percent unemployment rate in 2017. While economic opportunity has been improved for many Lebanese, this number has actually stayed around the same over the past year, reaching the lowest of 6.2 percent unemployment.
  5. Although Lebanon’s economy has continued to grow, poverty in the country remains relatively prominent. Approximately 30 percent of the country’s grand total of six million people live under $4 a day. Poverty is much higher in the rural regions of the north, while it is less prominent in urban areas like the capital city of Beirut.
  6. Life expectancy in Lebanon has risen significantly catalyzed by rapid development throughout the country. In 1960, the average lifetime of people in Lebanon was an already relatively high 63.2 years and has increased to 79.6 years in 2016.
  7. School enrollment and persistence to end enrollment in Lebanon has fluctuated and decreased since the beginning of development. In 1999, about 90 percent of primary school students completed their full studies, while this number has decreased to 84 percent in 2016. Decreased educational persistence can trap some Lebanese into low-skill, high-demand job markets.
  8. Despite a decrease in primary school enrollment in Lebanon, the adult literacy rate in the country is high, standing at 91.18 percent. In young adults (ages 15 to 24), the literacy rate is substantially higher at 99.24 percent, and the male and female literacy rates are relatively equal with 99.16 percent and 99.34 percent, respectively.
  9. Nearly 500,000 people in Lebanon are Palestinian refugees registered with United Nations relief organizations in the country. This makes up an approximate 8 percent of the country’s population, but many continue to live in refugee camps in extreme poverty with limited access to diversified job markets.
  10. Poor Lebanese citizens and international refugees are more likely to be subjected to human trafficking. Refugees and women are particularly vulnerable to be involved in forced labor. Although the government has been working on decreasing the prevalence of forced labor and human trafficking in the country, results and impact have been inconsistent.

Lebanon has increased its economy, offering more opportunities for its people. A strong focus on the service and skilled industry, along with industrial and agricultural growth has allowed the country to increase its standard of living. Although the economy has developed significantly, poverty for some Lebanese and severe limitations for refugees still continues. With more freedom and better security for these people, poverty will continue to decrease in Lebanon.

– Matthew Cline
Photo: Flickr
 

World Bank Helps Lebanon

Lebanon is a country located in the Middle East, facing the Mediterranean Sea and bordering Syria, Jordan and Israel. Lebanon’s biggest obstacle is its proximity to the Syrian Conflict, which has economically hindered Lebanon. According to The World Bank, poverty is predicted to worsen; approximately 200,000 Lebanese were forced into poverty due to the Syrian Crisis. Fortunately, The World Bank is helping Lebanon progress as a sovereign state.

Five Ways the World Bank Helps Lebanon

1. The World Bank financially supports the implementation of the Greater Beirut Water Supply Project.

The World Bank is helping Lebanon by advancing its infrastructure. Due to the high volume of refugees in Beirut, there have been many problems with accessing clean water. Several areas surrounding Beirut do not have safe, drinkable water. This project provides clean water to low-income neighborhoods in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The initiative was approved on June 15, 2018, and the project will end on November 30, 2020.

2. The World Bank is leading a $400 million project to increase employment opportunities.

The World Bank is helping Lebanon with their economy, which came to a standstill after the displacement of Syrian refugees. About 1.1 million Syrian refugees are living in Lebanon currently, which is 25 percent of its population. This project is called “Creating Economic Opportunities in Support of the Lebanon National Jobs Program” and will create 52,000 permanent jobs and 12,000 temporary jobs. This will definitely increase career opportunities throughout the country as well as increase employment so that individuals can improve their livelihoods.

3. The World Bank is one of the main creators of the “Lebanon Youth Advisory Group”.

The World Bank is helping Lebanon by empowering and engaging its youth. The Youth Advisory Group (YAG) acts as a liaison between the younger population of Lebanon and The World Bank. Young adults between the ages of 20-25 join YAG and discuss how The World Bank’s influence affecting the youth. YAG participates in the decision-making process for new initiatives spearheaded by The World Bank, who actively converses with the organization to start new projects. YAG provides students and young adults a voice within the education and political systems.

4. The World Bank funds The Greater Beirut Public Transport Project.

The Greater Beirut Public Transport Project will “improve the speed, quality and accessibility of public transportation for passengers in the Greater Beirut Area”. The World Bank continues to support Lebanon’s infrastructure. Access to the city allows individuals to travel to work. It also permits individuals to move from place to place at an inexpensive cost; this will increase accessibility to the city, which could potentially have economic benefits. Safety is also a priority within this initiative, therefore, it will also fund pedestrian bridges and crossings. Overall, the project will offer a more secure and accessible urban environment for the people of Beirut.

5. The World Bank approved the Land Administration System Modernization Project in Lebanon.

The Land Administration System Modernization Project costs about $43 million and it will make the retrieval of property rights data and land use information much easier to attain. The objective of this project is to facilitate processes related to Property Valuation and State Land Management. Ultimately, this intelligence will provide insight for all “planning and value-adding services in the nation”. This project is a victory for institutional transparency and development.

The World Bank is helping Lebanon improve their infrastructure, employment rates, political systems and beyond. It continues to better Lebanon so that it can thrive economically. Lebanon is currently facing a multitude of issues, yet The World Bank has been an important ally in their struggles. They have been a crucial ally to Lebanon in this time, as the projects above reflect.

– Diana Hallisey
Photo: Flickr

Amber HeardAmber Heard is a model and actress who has dedicated her career to being more than just a “pretty face.” She is best known for her roles in Zombieland (2009), The Stepfather (2009) and The Danish Girl (2015). Heard was also featured in The Justice League (2017) as Mera, a role which she will be reprising in the upcoming Aquaman film.

The actress has always been a strong advocate for the importance of charity work and helping those who are in need. Now, through a lot of time and dedication, Amber Heard is helping Syrian refugees that need medical attention by partnering with The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).

The Syrian American Medical Society

SAMS is an organization that provides medical relief to Syrian refugees by working on the front lines. The non-governmental organization (NGO) prides itself on being one of the most active and trusted organizations on the ground in Syria. Its main goal is to provide medical care to every patient who needs it.

SAMS is dedicated to providing these medical services all while promoting medical education in Syria with the assistance of hard-working humanitarians from around the globe. Its vision is to strengthen the medical community for Syria’s future. In 2017 alone, SAMS worked to provide more than 3.5 million health services to vulnerable populations, serving patients regardless of religious affiliation, race, ethnicity or political affiliation.

SAMS primarily operates in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey where it has provided support to 110 medical facilities and over 3,000 personnel. Now, its programs are quickly expanding to other countries that are facing extreme poverty. For example, in 2016, it launched SAMS Global Response (SGR) to address the medical needs of vulnerable populations in Greece.

In 2017, SAMS expanded its operation to Egypt and Bangladesh where it set up to meet the increasing medical needs of those who have no access to health care. SAMS does what is called “medical missions” where it brings in skilled health professionals from around the world to provide life-saving care free of charge.    

SAMS is a leader for advocacy and works closely with policymakers both within the United States and on the global level. It advocates increasing political action to help end the crisis in Syria and allow for the voices of its workers on the ground who continue to risk their safety to save the lives of the vulnerable. It advocates for:

  • Protection of medical facilities, healthcare workers and civilians
  • Provisions for access to trapped civilians
  • Increasing involvement of NGOs in decision-making
  • Support for both Syrian refugees and host communities

Amber Heard Is Helping Syrian Refugees

SAMS asked Amber Heard to join its crew on a medical mission to help assist with the 660,000 displaced Syrians in a camp. “My biggest takeaway from this trip is the indelible mark left on my soul after spending a week on the ground here…” Heard spent a week in Jordan with SAMS to visit one of the largest camps for Syrian refugees, which also doubles as a rehabilitation center for those who have been injured.  

Amber Heard is helping Syrian refugees by starting a fundraising campaign. During her trip to Jordan, Heard met a 12-year-old girl named Weam, who is in desperate need of medical assistance. She suffers from a disease called thalassemia, which means she needs blood transfusions every 20 days. This is an expense her family simply cannot afford. Weam had been receiving treatments from an NGO; unfortunately, due to budget cuts, the treatment had to stop. There are 12 more children that have to live with this disease who also need help.  

Amber Heard is helping Syrian refugees by partnering with SAMS to offer a trip to the Aquaman premiere as well as a meet and greet with Heard and her co-star Jason Momoa. The money raised will be used to help treat the 12 children suffering from thalassemia in Jordan.

Amber Heard is using her influence to raise awareness of the important work being done by SAMS. With her fundraiser, 12 children will get the blood transfusions they need to fight thalassemia. Medical attention for Syrian refugees is an important cause, and thanks to people like Amber Heard and organization like SAMS, some of the suffering that these refugees are experiencing can be lessened.

– Olivia Hodges

Photo: Flickr

Lebanon

The fact remains clear worldwide that education fosters better economic opportunity. Inclusive education has become an important global poverty issue for this reason. Yet, Lebanon still struggles to provide a proper education for disabled children. This can potentially leave handicapped individuals at a disadvantage when compared to their peers.

Current situation

Lebanese schools often decline disabled children due to discrimination and inadequate accommodations. When these children can attend school, they struggle with a lack of specialized care. They find that no individualized lesson plans exist for them and teachers have no special training. Most schools even lack the appropriate architecture for wheelchair access.

The burden of these shortcomings often falls on the parents. They may pay high traveling fees as a handicap-friendly school can often lie miles away from home of the children. Other schools might charge the parents for a specialized tutor. If the parents cannot pay these costs, their child can end up without an education at all.

This trend has led to some disturbing statistics in education for disabled children. The Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union (LPHU) conducted a study in 2014 from a sampling of disabled individuals. They discovered that 54% of these individuals had only received a primary level of education. Of this 54%, 24% still reported having issues with illiteracy.

Law 220

Issues such as these persist despite Lebanon law requiring non-discriminatory education for disabled children. Law 220, created in 2000, ensures this right for all disabled individuals. Yet, fifteen years later, only five public schools had built the modifications to allow wheelchair access.

Residential facilities for those with disabilities seems the best this law can provide. Yet, many question the quality of the education received. Many children come out of these facilities still illiterate or even without finishing school. These facilities have also reported dangers such as child and adult residents residing together.

The main issue, it seems, resides in enforcing and implementing Law 220. Human Rights Watch (HRW) suggests that the Lebanon government must change its policies. It advises them to “develop guidelines and standards on inclusive classrooms” and “revise the teacher training materials”. Along with this, the government must “strengthen and regulate the monitoring of schools”.

To its credit, the government has noticed the issue and has taken measures to fix it. HRW reports that the education sector, the Ministry of Education and High Education (MEHE), has plans for a 2018 pilot program. Under this program, children with learning disabilities will be integrated into 30 schools. Six schools will enroll children who have “visual, hearing, physical, and moderate intellectual disabilities”.

Private organizations and UNICEF have also made efforts to build accessibility modifications to school facilities. Others pay for specialized teachers and materials for those with visual impairments so they may attend school. Lebanese teachers themselves are also fighting to develop a strategy that will improve inclusion.

The UN estimated that in 2001, 10% of the population in Lebanon has a disability. At a current population of 6,094,089, this means that over 600,000 individuals might face difficulties with education access in Lebanon. As the population of Lebanon has grown since then, this number has increased.

Over 600,000 individuals can remain trapped in cycles of poverty due to something they have no control over. This does not seem fair and many organizations, including the government, agree. Hopefully, this assessment will give the Lebanese government and other organizations the incentive to keep fighting for a fully inclusive education.

Elizabeth A. Frerking

Photo: Flickr