Yesterday, the United Nations announced that it would suspend a plan to start paying financial aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon in dollars, after Lebanese officials rejected the plan. Representatives of United Nations organizations in Lebanon decided to suspend the provision of cash assistance to Syrian refugees for the next month, until an appropriate mechanism is reached in this regard.
Lebanon has been suffering from a severe financial crisis since 2019, and about 90% of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon live below the extreme poverty line, according to United Nations estimates, and since the collapse of the Lebanese currency, United Nations agencies have been paying aid to refugees in Lebanese pounds.
And last Wednesday, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the World Food Program and the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon announced that they would start giving refugees in Lebanon the option of receiving payments in dollars rather than in Lebanese pounds, pointing to the rapid decline in the value of the lira, the increase in fluctuations in the exchange rate, and the pressure on The financial provider provides large amounts of cash in Lebanese pounds, with a maximum of $125 per family per month.
And the representatives of the United Nations said in a joint statement, yesterday, issued by the Deputy Special Coordinator of the United Nations in Lebanon, the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Imran Reda, the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ivo Friesen, and the representative of the World Food Program, Abdullah Al-Wardat, that it is “the result of a series of meetings.” A meeting was held with Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Minister of Social Affairs in the caretaker government, Dr. Hector Al-Hajjar, and at their request, a decision was taken to suspend the provision of cash assistance in the two currencies to refugees for the next month, while discussions continue about the appropriate mechanism that can be followed.
The statement added, “The United Nations renews its commitment to humanitarian principles in supporting the Lebanese government to help those most vulnerable in all parts of Lebanon,” noting that it takes all implementation decisions with full transparency and in accordance with the United Nations’ commitment to its humanitarian mission, and these decisions include those related to aid programs and methods followed, which Grounded in hard, objective facts and comprehensive research.
The statement referred to continuing to “stand with the people of Lebanon and its government in these difficult times and to promote a collaborative environment in the service of those most in need of assistance, including refugees.”
And the Lebanese Minister of Social Affairs, Hector Hajjar, announced in a press conference, the day before yesterday, that he rejected the request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to give the displaced cash assistance in US dollars, after it was given to them in Lebanese pounds.
Yesterday, the World Bank approved additional financing of $300 million for Lebanon’s poor by providing cash payments to help families struggling amid the country’s historic economic collapse. The new funding came two years after the World Bank approved a $246 million loan to provide emergency aid. to hundreds of thousands in Lebanon.
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