According to a new UNICEF survey, families in Lebanon are barely able to meet their most basic needs despite drastically cutting costs. In an attempt to survive the nation’s socioeconomic crisis, a growing number of families are forced to send their children to work, some as young as six years old.
The survey’s findings paint a dramatic picture of the crisis, which continues to worsen for the fourth year in a row, with devastating effects for children.
Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF’s representative in Lebanon, stated, “The compounding crises facing the children of Lebanon are creating an unbearable situation – breaking their spirit, damaging their mental health, and threatening to wipe out their hope for a better future.”
Based on UNICEF’s most recent rapid assessment of children’s lives, the report reveals that nearly 9 out of 10 households are compelled to take extreme measures in order to deal with the crisis.
The report demonstrates:
- Fifteen per cent of households stopped their children’s education, up from 10 per cent a year ago, and 52 per cent reduced spending on education, compared to 38 per cent a year ago.
- Three-quarters of households have reduced spending on health treatment, as compared to 6 in 10 last year.
- Two in five households have been forced to sell family possessions, up from one in five last year.
- More than 1 in 10 families have been forced to send children out to work as a way of coping, with this figure rising to more than 1 in 4 families amongst Syrian children.
In spite of these desperate coping mechanisms, many families are unable to afford the required quantity and variety of food, as well as the costs associated with receiving medical treatment.
Significantly, period poverty is also being exacerbated by the crisis. Just over half of respondents stated that women and girls in the household did not have sufficient female hygiene items, such as sanitary pads, and nearly all of them stated that these items are currently too expensive.
Numerous caregivers acknowledge that the bleak situation causes them to experience persistent stress, which in turn causes them to feel resentment toward their children. Six of every 10 felt they needed to yell at their kids and 2 out of 10 felt they needed to hit them in the past about fourteen days to when the study was taken.
Children’s mental health is being seriously harmed by the rising tensions and lack of resources. Nearly half of caregivers said their children were very sad or felt depressed every week, and nearly seven out of ten caregivers said their children appeared anxious, nervous, or worried.
Families’ ability to deal with the crisis is further hampered by gaps in the national social protection system and restricted access to essential services like healthcare and education.
The National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS), which was just produced, includes plans to provide social grants to those who need them the most, including vulnerable families raising children. UNICEF is urging the government to quickly implement these plans. In addition, UNICEF urges the government to make investments in education through reforms and national policies in order to guarantee that all children, but especially those who are most at risk, have access to high-quality, inclusive education.
According to Beigbeder, “improving investment in essential services for children—particularly education, health, and social protection—will help mitigate the impact of the crisis, ensure the well-being and survival of future generations, and contribute to economic recovery.”