Category: Lebanon

UN humanitarian chief urges: ‘prevent entire generation from being lost in Syria.’

Some 13.4 million Syrians throughout the beleaguered country are in need of assistance, the UN humanitarian office said on Saturday, calling for “greater access and expanded funding”, to better help them.

Concluding a seven-day visit to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, in his first official mission in the region since assuming the function of UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths stressed that “the UN needs to be able to reach people who depend on its aid both from Turkey and from within Syria”.

Humanitarians and donors must keep Syria high on our collective agenda to prevent an entire generation being lost”, Martin Griffiths underscored.

During meetings with the Syrian Foreign Minister and his deputy, Mr. Griffiths emphasised the need to expand humanitarian access, protect civilians and help Syrians envision a future for themselves.

So far, the United Nations and its partners have received only 27 per cent of the funding needed for its 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria, which seeks $4.2 billion.

And the $5.8 billion Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan aims to help over 5.5 million Syrian refugees and host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey is only 19 per cent funded, according UN News.

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United Nations: Beirut’s youth rebuild the Lebanese capital.

Young people in Beirut, which was devastated by an explosion in a warehouse at the city’s port on 4 August 2020, have been pitching in to get the Lebanese capital back on its feet with support from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

With no employment prospects in sight, Rafah found it hard to stay positive, amid the destruction of her city.

A UNICEF project has since given her, and hundreds of others, fresh purpose, providing them with an income, and setting them a daunting task: the clean-up, and rehabilitation, of Beirut.

In the aftermath of the explosion, UNICEF staff, alongside partners on the ground, conducted house-to-house surveys of families, and a series of technical assessments of larger buildings.

They estimated that 300,000 people, including 100,000 children, were directly affected by the disaster.

Rafah is part of a 1,900 strong youth network, mobilized by the UN agency, focusing on cleaning, minor rehabilitation of houses and, critically, helping to reconnect homes to municipal and private water supplies.

The programme, Cash 4 Work, provides knowledge and training from fully-qualified professionals and, in a country whose economy is in a critical state, financial assistance.

‘There are no job opportunities in Lebanon’

The participants, primarily the most vulnerable and poorer members of society, who cannot find employment in the local job market, are paid to work.

The programme is also playing a part in bind this fractured society together, as the young men and women bond through teamwork, and a shared goal of successfully completing their projects and improving their surroundings.

“There are no job opportunities in Lebanon, so this programme helped me”, says Rafah.

“Now, when I look forward, I feel I did something for myself, and this is a nice achievement.

My personality has changed a lot”.

Her colleague, 24-year-old Mohammad, is equally upbeat about his time spent on the programme:

“We are training youth as painters and, in parallel, we are working with others on renovating houses damaged in the explosions, that haven’t been repaired in almost a year.

I am happy that I gained a skill, and I am still learning. To work on my future and achieve my goals, especially in these difficult times, is something special”, according UN News.

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UNICEF warns: Public water system on the verge of collapse in Lebanon.

The public water system in Lebanon is “on life support” and could collapse at any moment, putting 71 per cent of the population, or more than four million people, at immediate risk of losing access to safe supply, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, warned on Friday. 

Most water pumping will gradually cease in the next four to six weeks, the United Nations agency estimated, due to the escalating economic crisis and shortages in funding and supplies, such as chlorine and spare parts. 

A collapse could lead to water prices rising by 200 per cent a month as families rush to secure alternative or private suppliers. 

“The water sector is being squeezed to destruction by the current economic crisis in Lebanon, unable to function due to the dollarized maintenance costs, water loss caused by non-revenue water, the parallel collapse of the power grid and the threat of rising fuel costs,” said Yukie MokuoUNICEF Representative in the country. 

“A loss of access to the public water supply could force households to make extremely difficult decisions regarding their basic water, sanitation and hygiene needs,” she added. 

A UNICEF assessment based on data from Lebanon’s four main public utility companies revealed that more than 70 per cent of people are now living with “highly critical” and “critical” levels of vulnerability. 

Nearly 1.7 million people have access to just 35 litres a day, compared with the national average of 165 litres prior to 2020, or a nearly 80 per cent decrease. 

“At the height of the summer months, with COVID-19 cases beginning to rise again due to the Delta variant, Lebanon’s precious public water system is on life support and could collapse at any moment,” Ms Mokuo said according UN News.

UNICEF requires $40 million a year to secure the minimum levels of fuel, chlorine, spare parts and maintenance necessary to keep critical systems operational.  

Ms. Mokuo underscored the need for urgent action as facilities such as schools and hospitals will not be able to function, and millions will be forced to resort to unsafe and expensive water sources. 

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