Three weeks after the brutal explosion in Beirut, hunger in Lebanon is on the rise. Food insecurity – which had already deteriorated over the last year because of socio-political tensions, the refugee crisis, and the spread of COVID-19 – has worsened.
Across the country, 60% of Lebanese people face challenges in getting enough to eat. Among the 1.5 million Syrian refugees currently living in the country, 78% face food insecurity.
Action Against Hunger, which mobilized to remove debris in the aftermath of the August 4 explosion in Beirut, is preparing a response to meet the urgent needs of those affected, including in Beirut’s red light district. Today, the organization’s head of advocacy, Aurélie du Chatelet, issued the following statement from Beirut:
"The port of Beirut is gradually recovering its operational capacity, but is still barely a third of its capacity, making it difficult for food to enter a country that is highly dependent on imports. Hyperinflation is a huge problem for the country. Food prices have doubled and even tripled in the last year. Soon, bread, medicine, and fuel will no longer be subsidized.
The fatal accident at the port may have been the last straw for an economy already extremely hard hit by the multi-crisis affecting the country. We are extremely worried about an increase in malnutrition in the coming months.
There is no doubt that the resilience and solidarity of the Lebanese people has shone again in this crisis, but the truth is: we are facing an exhausted population in one of the most complicated years since the civil war. The explosion has destroyed not only homes and infrastructure, but the businesses and livelihoods of thousands of Lebanese, a traditionally enterprising people, who find themselves – in an instant - without income to buy increasingly expensive food in the markets.
Fortunately, aid is beginning to mobilize and can continue even during the COVID-19 lockdown, which began again last week. Since humanitarians are considered essential personnel, they are able to move around the city and its surroundings. But, it is clear that it is not just a port and half a city that need to be rebuilt, but also the livelihoods of many people who were already under severe economic stress. It will be crucial to provide cash to affected families so that they can access a sufficient and diverse foods, and so that stores and small businesses can get back on their feet. The response must also consider the recovery and promotion of healthy habits, such as breastfeeding, to prevent malnutrition."
Action Against Hunger, which is helping to coordinate the response of international organizations in the country, moved our emergency team to the affected area to support the immediate response and medium-term rehabilitation. Our 150-strong team has been working in Lebanon since 2006, and is one of the main organizations providing water and sanitation to Syrian refugees living in informal settlements.