The Commission is allocating €5.5 million in humanitarian funding to help strengthen the COVID-19 response in Lebanon. The funding comes as Lebanon faces high infection rates, with the national health system close to collapse as well as low vaccination rates.
Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said: “The tragic blast in Beirut on 4 August 2020 sadly changed the lives of many Lebanese for ever. The tragedy should serve as an opportunity for Lebanon to re-emerge stronger. The Lebanese authorities need to form a government and deliver to its people. The EU continues to stand with the Lebanese people offering its support in the most dire moments, in particular now that the world is fighting a pandemic. The funding announced today will support Lebanon to fight the COVID-19.”
Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management said: “In Lebanon, more than 3 million people are in need of assistance due to the COVID-19 crisis. The virus is rapidly spreading while there is very limited access to free testing and intensive care units are overwhelmed. Along with the pandemic's impact, Lebanese people as well as refugees are still coping with the aftermath of the devastating Beirut explosion in 2020 and the ongoing economic and political crisis. In response, the EU is mobilising humanitarian support to help alleviate the suffering of those most in need in Lebanon and help the country fight the pandemic.”
The latest EU funding to Lebanon comes in addition to the EU's initial allocation of €50 million in humanitarian aid released for 2021.
The funding will support the vaccination rollout to reach the highest possible number of people over the coming months and to prevent an increase in infections. Critical health needs, including mental and psycho-social support linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, will also be addressed swiftly.
One year after the Beirut blast on August 4 2020, Lebanon is still facing the dire consequences of the explosion, compounded by the spread of COVID-19, lockdowns and the ongoing socioeconomic crisis, triggered by the financial collapse in October 2019.
Lebanon continues to host some 1.5 million Syrian refugees without sustainable solutions in sight. Resource scarcity and public service collapse leads to a severe humanitarian crisis and contributes to community tensions.
1.6 million people are food insecure, with 77% of refugees having to reduce their spending on food. The closure of schools left 1.2 million children without access to school education in 2020 while 40% of school-aged Syrian refugees remain out of any learning programme.
In addition, frequent and extended power cuts threaten the delivery of water across the country. Hospitals have downsized their capacity and are facing a dramatic shortage of medicines and supplies as well as medical staff.
EU Humanitarian Aid responds to Lebanon's needs by strengthening the COVID-19 response and giving life-saving assistance in solidarity with those affected. The new fund will help improve outbreak detection at community level, strengthen testing capacity and reinforce the health system.
Since 2011, the European Union provided Lebanon €722 million in humanitarian funding to respond to urgent needs. The funding has helped vulnerable Syrian refugees as well as Lebanese people impacted by the socio-economic meltdown, the pandemic and the Beirut blast.