The International Rescue Committee (IRC), funded by the European Union (EU), has provided integrated protection and education programming to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, aimed at addressing the needs of at-risk populations, such women, children and adolescents, and survivors of violence. The EU has supported the programme with a total contribution of 2.2 million euros.

In recent years, Lebanon has struggled with unprecedented levels of inflation and a rising poverty rate. This has taken a particular toll on Syrian refugees in the country who have already been living on the brink of poverty. Many have adopted negative coping mechanisms such as cutting food intake, getting into debt, and engaging children in various forms of child labour. Moreover, COVID-19 movement restrictions have been linked to rising incidents of sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) against women and girls, as well as a surge in mental health support needs.

The IRC has been supporting Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon since 2012. The main interventions have been regarding protection, education, early childhood development and rebuilding livelihoods. 

With this programme alone, the IRC has reached a total of almost 35,000 clients, of which an estimated 18,000 are women and girls and around 17,500 are children and adolescents. Through funding from the EU, the IRC has among other been able to provide women and girls with emergency dignity kits to maintain their personal hygiene and reduce the stress associated with the need to buy such items, run basic literacy and numeracy sessions for children who dropped out or have never been to school, and offer case management, as well as psycho-social support to persons affected by GBV.

Matias Meier, Country Director of IRC Lebanon, said: 

“Time and time again, we have seen that women and girls, as well as children and adolescents bear the brunt of crisis situations. This is no different in Lebanon where the economic crisis has placed immense stress on families especially on Syrian families living in Lebanon. Many families have to resort to sending their children off to become the main breadwinner, and adolescent girls are particularly at risk of exploitation or gender-based violence. For this reason, it is crucial that donors like the EU continue funding humanitarian organisations like the IRC in providing psychosocial help and safe spaces, to ensure that families have a support system to lean on in tough times.”