Pressures on Aid in Lebanon
By: Naomi Bula
Nearly one in three people in Lebanon is a refugee, the majority of whom fled from Syria. Many have no homes to return to and remain in limbo, hoping to be resettled elsewhere. For several years, World Renew has been working through our partner MERATH to mobilize local churches to respond to the many needs of these displaced people. But new pressures are complicating the situation.
Lebanon is one of the countries that relies most heavily on grain exports from Ukraine for food supply, but that supply has been affected by conflict. The lack of access to food is compounded by political unrest within Lebanon, high inflation rates, a financial crisis that paralyzed banking transactions, and, of course, the Beirut explosion of 2020 that destroyed several months of grain reserves held in siloes. “It feels like the plagues of Lebanon,” says MERATH communications manager, Sophie Nasrallah. “People don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. It reminds me of God’s people in the wilderness, when they really had to rely on God’s manna every day.”
Shortages of medicine and fuel are a tremendous concern right now within Lebanon, and even those residents who can access money are finding prices impossible. “Many of our qualified people are leaving because they can’t earn a decent income anymore,” Nasrallah says. For everyone else, she explains, “It’s hard to even ask how you’re doing. Everyone is burnt out.”
Because funding has been decreasing for supporting churches as they respond to needs, MERATH has had to make some very difficult decisions about who they can assist. The same church members who made the difficult choice to serve their Syrian neighbors despite a fraught history are now struggling to make ends meet themselves. “Funding is decreasing as compared to the previous years, so we are not only making tough decisions about who we can assist, but we are making even tougher decisions about who we will stop helping although everyone still needs it so badly and our partner churches have established meaningful relationships with them. This means we’re scaling down when we should be scaling up,” explains Nasrallah.
World Renew’s Global Food Crisis fund is helping support our partners in Lebanon and other countries at extremely high risk of hunger, as they imagine more for those experiencing food insecurity. “Our comfort is believing that God is in control and that even though we might not be able to keep on supporting all families, we trust God will provide and we know that our local partner churches who have established meaningful relationships with vulnerable families will continue to check up on them and help in any way they are able to,” says Nasrallah.
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