Cedars in Lebanon

Lebanon A small country facing enormous challenges

Lebanon is experiencing the worst economic, financial and monetary crisis in its history. On 4 August 2020 a terrible explosion ripped through the port of Beirut leaving more than 200 people dead and injuring around 6,000. The port was destroyed by the explosion and even buildings a great distance away were damaged, meaning that as many as 300,000 people were left homeless. The explosion was triggered by a fire in a warehouse where more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were being stored without adequate safety precautions.

Press release 25 April 2022
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View of Beirut

Mass demonstrations against the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab ensued as people took to the streets to protest about the negligence of the authorities, who had long been aware of the danger, and about the economic and political crisis that the country is going through. A few days after the explosion the government resigned. Just recently, in September 2021, a new government was formed under Prime Minister Najib Miqati which, however, has only limited capacity to act and is proving to be hardly reform-oriented.

The country’s public health system has been severely underfunded for decades. Both the explosion and the COVID-19 pandemic caused parts of the health system to collapse, and only with international support were severe healthcare gaps avoided.

These latest events have hit a small country that, in relation to the total number of its citizens, has taken in more refugees than any other place in the world. An estimated 1.5 million people from Syria have fled to Lebanon in a bid to escape the civil war raging in their own country (at the end of March 2022, around 840,000 Syrians were officially registered with the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR). The sheer number of refugees coming into the country is a huge challenge for the roughly 4.4 million inhabitants of Lebanon – where there are already about 256,000 Palestinian refugees, some of whom have been living in camps there for decades.

Germany’s development cooperation with Lebanon

When Lebanon reached the status of an “upper-middle-income country” in 2003, Germany discontinued its development cooperation with the country. However, following militant clashes between the Hezbollah (a Shi’ite political and military organisation based in Lebanon) and Israeli forces in the summer of 2006, Germany resumed its development cooperation with Lebanon in order to support the reconstruction of the country.

In the wake of the Syrian crisis, development cooperation with Lebanon was increased. Since 2020, the country is one of the selected group of partner countries with which the BMZ is working to realise long-term shared development goals. The aim of this cooperation is to contribute towards stabilisation and conflict prevention and also, in the medium to long term, towards Lebanon’s economic development. The Lebanese government is expected, for its part, to implement reforms.

Since 2012, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has provided some 1.7 billion euros to support Lebanon.

In the short to medium term, the focus is on supporting acute crisis management, providing support to Syrian refugees and host communities and helping to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures include, for example: providing support in the areas of food security, income generation, social protection (including through cash transfers), as well as strengthening health services.

Further priority areas of development cooperation with Lebanon are:

  • basic education, vocational education and training,
  • employment promotion,
  • municipal infrastructure projects to provide basic services in communities that are hosting refugees (for example drinking water supply and sanitation),
  • food security by supporting agricultural production and
  • re-building of Palestinian refugee camps.

A selection of examples which show the impacts of German involvement in Lebanon

  • Between 2016 and 2021, funding was provided to cover the school fees for almost 795,000 children of school age, including nearly 390,000 needy Lebanese children.
  • In the period from 2016 to April 2021, investments in the water sector helped to improve the quality and availability of drinking water and the sanitary conditions of over 800,000 people.
  • In 2021 alone, some 22,000 short-term jobs were created in Lebanon through the Partnership for Prospects in the Middle East (cash for work), bringing the total number created since 2016 to 113,000.
  • More than 8,000 housing units were renovated, providing accommodation for 30,000 Syrian refugees.
  • To strengthen value chains, more than 550 smallholders have been given training on the cultivation and processing of apples, olives, vegetables and dairy products (training courses focused on technical skills and business practices).
  • The employability of 4,000 young people and women has been improved through vocational training courses in the fields of food industry (agrifood), construction, the cultural economy and creative industries, health, information and communication technologies and local tourism.
  • To enhance the political participation of women, more than 700 women have taken part in mentoring and training programmes to strengthen their participation in community councils and at the local level.

Current situation

Political situation
View of Beirut
Political background
Falafel stall by the highway in Saida, Lebanon
Security situation
Economic situation
Cranes in the container port of Beirut, the picture was taken before the explosion on August 4, 2020
Camp for refugees in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

The refugee crisis More than one in every five people living in the country is a refugee Internal link

In March 2022, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, had officially registered nearly 840,000 refugees from Syria staying in Lebanon. Their living conditions are poor: some 90 per cent of the refugees are living in poverty. About 60 per cent of the Syrian refugee children of school age do not go to school and child labour is widespread.

As at: 21/04/2022