The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that the unprecedented crisis that has hit Lebanon for three years “has shattered” the dreams and future of thousands of children and young people who see as the only way out an immigration that puts at risk their family ties.
In its report ‘Dispossessed childhoods: child poverty in crisis-stricken Lebanon’, UNCEF has warned that the devastating crisis that has been raging in the country of the cedars for three years has damaged all aspects of the lives of the youngest.
“Children are growing up without enough to eat, without adequate access to medical care and, in some cases, working to support their families,” lamented UNICEF’s representative in Lebanon, Edouard Beigbeder.
“Critical reforms are needed to safeguard the future of these children. The government must implement urgent social protection measures, ensure access to quality education for all, and strengthen primary health care and child protection services,” he said.
One of the conclusions offered by this report reveals that children and young people are increasingly aware of the difficulties their families are going through, so, once they have given up, they are betting on leaving Lebanon as the only way to achieve a better future.
The combination of deprivation, the loss of hope and trust in those who should provide them with what is necessary for a dignified life, is causing an increase of tensions in the family nucleus, affecting the mental health of some children, who also do not have the possibility of accessing treatment for this type of ailment.
“These tensions, further fueled by polarization between and within communities, have led to an increase in violence, including in homes and schools,” UNICEF has highlighted, warning that “many streets and neighborhoods are no longer safe, further limiting children’s right to play.”
84 percent of households do not have enough money to cover their needs, while 38 percent of these families have had to reduce spending on education. This figure rises to 60 percent of those who have had to cut back on medical treatment.
Seventy percent of households have to borrow money to buy food and 36 percent of guardians feel less tolerant of their children and treat them more harshly.
“Child poverty at all levels requires a multidimensional response as well,” notes Beigbeder, for whom Lebanon’s social protection system needs to be strengthened so that the fundamental rights of the youngest children can be guaranteed.