Surviving the worst economic crisis in decades

Skyrocketing prices hit the most vulnerable Lebanese and refugee families hardest 

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© UNHCR/Houssam Hariri

Over the last two years, Lebanon’s currency has crashed, prices have soared – and life has become tougher than ever for thousands of Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese families.       

Nine out of ten refugees are now living in extreme poverty due to the economic crisis in Lebanon – unable to afford basic essentials like food, clothes, fuel and medicine. Many are sleeping in dangerous, substandard or overcrowded shelters. And in desperation, they’re doing whatever it takes to survive – from begging and borrowing money, to taking poorly-paid or high-risk jobs and sending their children out to work at a young age.  

For these families, winter brings yet more hardship and suffering. Last year, Storm Joyce wreaked havoc on flimsy refugee settlements – and this year threatens to batter them once again with freezing winds, lashing rain and heavy snow.  

Lebanese families are also facing a bitter struggle for survival. “I rely on the help of my neighbours, who provide me with medicines, food and money to survive,” says Aliyah, a single mother of four (above). “My son Ali was the only provider in the family, but his income alone was not enough to make it.” 

Aliyah lives in a damp, dilapidated house in the small coastal town of Sarafand. The roof is in urgent need of repair and parts of the walls and ceiling have collapsed as a result of water leaks.  

“The house we live in is in a dire condition,” she says. “Nothing in the house is a source of comfort. It is hard enough to put food on the table, but it is even harder when you don’t feel safe in your own home.” 

Aliyah (left), who faced access constraints in her home in Sarafand, Lebanon, after her leg was amputated, meets visitors from UNHCR and its partner to discuss renovation of the building. © UNHCR/Houssam Hariri

Thankfully, UNHCR is supporting Aliyah and helping to make her home more watertight, weatherproof and comfortable. It’s all part of a countrywide shelter support programme – which involves everything from reinforcing homes against the elements and weatherproofing shelters in informal settlements, to providing rental subsidies to families at risk of eviction. 

So far, this vital programme has reached some 67,000 Lebanese and refugee families with urgent life-saving support.   

“Helping those most in need in having access to a safe home is a priority for UNHCR,” said Ayaki Ito, UNHCR Representative in the country. “Lebanese and refugees in Lebanon are suffering immensely and we must continue to stand by them in this very difficult time.” As the economic crisis in Lebanon continues, support is needed.



Thousands more refugees are facing extreme poverty this winter, with no end in sight. Donate to our winter appeal today to allow us to provide more life-saving support to refugees like Aliyah.




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