July 27, 2023
ALERT: The situation in Burkina Faso is rapidly deteriorating
Ten years after the start of the Syrian crisis, Lebanon remains a fragile country marked by conflict, with great institutional and social instability. The crisis has had a devastating impact on the provision of essential public services, and in particular education, security, and health, hitting the marginalized communities the hardest.
Currently, Lebanon is facing a crisis characterized by an acute economic recession and political turmoil combined with governance challenges. Hyperinflation has progressed for the 34th straight month in the country, reaching 269% in April this year, with food products and non-alcoholic beverages reaching 350%. This has led to a sharp drop in the purchasing power of households and an increase in the poverty rate in all groups of population. Overall, 80% of the population is estimated to be living in poverty. While prices are skyrocketing due to a severe economic crisis, 1.68 million Lebanese residents and Syrian refugees are food insecure, with needs expected to grow even more.
Years of corruption and mismanagement in the electricity sector has left it on the brink of collapse, with the state unable to provide more than two to three hours of electricity per day. Elections were held in May 2022, however there were widespread reports of serious violations including vote buying, violence, and abuse of power by political parties.
The economic crisis and rampant corruption has crumbled the Lebanese population’s faith in their government and triggered thousands of demonstrations nationwide in the last 2 years. While the majority of these manifestations have been peaceful, there have been reports of an increase in mob violence, armed clashes, and looting.
Moreover, Lebanon is one of the main host countries for Palestinian and Syrian exiles. It is estimated that 1.5 million Syrian refugees are living in the country, with 90% living in extreme poverty. As the country spirals further into instability and poverty, the refugee population feels the ramifications the hardest. Scattered in hundreds of Lebanese localities, often in the poorest regions of the country, Syrian refugees suffer from difficult access to essential services (water, health, education, etc.) which are already insufficient for the Lebanese population.
The Lebanese authorities have therefore implemented a series of measures to limit the influx of these refugees, in particular by refusing the establishment of official reception camps, or by blocking their registration. This situation only accentuates the precariousness of their situation and their desire to leave Lebanon for more welcoming countries.
Doctors of the World has been present in Lebanon since 1990, helping the country rehabilitate after the civil war ended. Today, our organization provides primary health care and medicines to Syrian refugees as well as to the most vulnerable Lebanese people. In 2021, DotW provided 72,756 primary health care consultations, and 4,833 sexual and reproductive health consultations. Cooperation with local partners ensures quality access to care and medicines. We support and strengthen the capacities of volunteer refugee teams, thus ensuring the effectiveness of our humanitarian action in Lebanon.
We work particularly with the AMEL association, a Lebanese NGO committed to a universal and international vision of access to health, but also with Skoun, Embrace, ABAAD, the National Mental Health Program, the Rafic Hariri University Hospital of Beirut, ICRC, Humanity and Inclusion or even the parish of El Qaa. Doctors of the World is currently supporting 3 primary health care centers and a mobile clinic in the Bekaa Valley, where many Syrian refugees live in a very precarious situation. We have provided 17 training sessions for health center staff, reaching over 120 health personnels.
To deal with the psychological trauma of the Syrian and Lebanese populations, psychotherapists give consultations and provide therapeutic follow-up in the centers, with cases of serious mental disorders being referred to specialized services. In 2021, we provided 13,218 consultations in mental health and psychosocial support.
Doctors of the World also set up awareness sessions for Syrian refugees and the most vulnerable Lebanese. The objective is twofold: to reduce discrimination against people suffering from psychological disorders but also to provide them with information on access to mental health care and the services available near their place of residence.
Our NGO has also helped with the opening of community mental health centers at the Rafic Hariri public university hospital in Beirut as well as in Baalbek. These centers work in conjunction with a service dedicated to drug users managed by our partner Skoun. We are also working with the National Mental Health Program of the Ministry of Public Health, to establish a public mental health care service that is accessible to all throughout Lebanon.
This work of integrating mental health into the national health system also involves strengthening the capacities of health personnel, through the delivery of technical training: detecting patients, providing adequate care to patients, as we do in the city of Tripoli. Finally, in cooperation with other national and international actors, we participate in advocacy to change policies and practices of the right to health, including mental health for all.