Lebanon, a historically rich eastern Mediterranean country, is a sharply divided nation whose fragile peace is routinely threatened by conflicts taking place across the Middle East. Beyond the tensions that endure between its various religious and political factions, Lebanon also faces a number of humanitarian hurdles like an underdeveloped agricultural south, a growing refugee burden, and spillover from the war in neighboring Syria.
Southern Lebanon’s economy, in particular, has been weakened by debt, a lack of investment, and ongoing conflicts that have prevented a resurgence of the agricultural sector. The 2006 conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, for example, resulted in 1,200 lives lost, $900 million in infrastructure damage, and heavy losses in the agricultural sector as farms were abandoned.
The civil war in Syria has caused an influx of refugees into Lebanon, an estimated 1,046,000 at last count, and these numbers are only expected to increase. A burgeoning refugee population adds tremendous pressures on local health facilities, water and sanitation systems, and food systems and markets -- not to mention growing Lebanese frustrations as wages fall with desperate Syrian refugees willing to do more work for less pay.
Action Against Hunger has had a presence in Lebanon since 2006, initially supporting communities caught in the crossfire during the armed conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, which displaced some 900,000 people. Our food security and water and sanitation programs have only expanded as tensions and instability grow, with our teams distributing livestock, rehabilitating farms and fields, providing veterinary services to prevent disease, and training communities in water and sanitation management. As refugees pour in from the Syrian conflict, our teams will continue to support new arrivals and host communities alike.