Special report from Lebanon

Increasing tensions and cross-border strikes. Over 70 civilians killed this year.

Update from Ann Foley, Medair’s Country Director in Lebanon.

In the wake of another airstrike in Lebanon this week, we are witnessing a concerning increase in tensions and instability across a country already reeling from rising poverty and widespread food insecurity.

This spring, it feels like it has gone up a notch.

In February we saw the first airstrikes in the Bekaa Valley for nearly 20 years, in a place where Medair colleagues were working close-by at the time. I am pleased to report that they are ok but were certainly shaken and in need of support.

In March and April, there have been more air raids, deeper into Lebanon, killing more than 70 civilians, including children – along with regular border clashes on the Southern Lebanese borders. Cross border tensions are high, with almost daily exchanges of fire between the two sides. People are scared, businesses near the border have been forced to close and many children are no longer attending school.

The areas in Lebanon that host displaced people seem to have lost the feeling of relative security they had before, providing an uncomfortable reminder of how important it is to keep our teams safe in the high-risk environments where we operate, while at the same time ensuring continuity of life-saving assistance to the vulnerable communities we are serving.

According to OCHA there were less than 30,000 internally displaced people in Lebanon in October 2023 and the number today is fast approaching 100,000. It is an increase that the country is struggling to accommodate. Lebanon already hosted over 1.5 million Syrian refugees before the most recent outbreak of conflict around its borders, the highest number of refugees per capita in the world.

For over six months now, Medair has been preparing for this increase – and we are continuing to do so, in anticipation of the months ahead.

We partner with UNHCR in operating a Temporary Shelter Unit that hosts displaced families and people from the south, such as 15 year old Ahmad, who was forced to flee with his family (pictured below.)

We also run a warehouse in the Bekaa Valley in partnership with UNHCR, supporting multiple other agencies and organisations, despatching shelter kits and core relief items (blankets, mattresses, clothing, kitchen sets, hygiene kits etc) to displaced families 

In addition, Medair is working with the Lebanese Ministry of Health to support two health centres in remote, underserved areas. Our work to pre-stock essential medicines enables thousands of families in need to access primary healthcare services that simply weren’t available before.

Despite our work being compromised by security constraints, Medair keeps going, working together for life and hope alongside the thousands of families affected by the spiralling conflict.

One of the reasons we have been able to plan ahead and be ready to help so many people displaced by conflict in the Middle East is because of our generous supporters who give monthly.

This approach gives Medair a regular income that enables us to plan for the future, whether that means readying ourselves for crises we see emerging, working on longer-term, sustainable programmes that benefit the communities we serve, or being equipped to and ready to deploy immediately when a disaster strikes.

As a monthly giver, it means spreading the financial impact of your giving over an entire year. Giving in smaller increments is more budget-friendly and, by giving reliable funds, you are enabling real change to happen.

If you would like to give monthly to help Medair plan ahead, please