Learn more about specific causes in Lebanon that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentLebanon’s government has partnered with the United Nations Development Program to help keep them on track for mitigating the effects of climate change on their country. Warming temperatures are negatively impacting the tourist seasons, which stifles the economic power of the tourism sector.1 The government’s plan is to implement social education programs that will help educate the public on the problem and help them use more sustainable energy sources. The government has also decided to redo the public transportation system and implement a car scrap program in order to reduce the amount of pollution.2
FamilyIn Lebanon’s patriarchal society, domestic abuse and violence against women is very common. In April 2014, the parliament in Lebanon passed a law to advance women’s rights. This law was instrumental in the establishment of certain safety protocols and court reforms, but leaves women vulnerable to marital rape and other abuses. There is a very high rate of domestic violence in Lebanon, and until the government decided to pass the Law on Protection of Women and Family Members from Domestic Violence in 2014, there were no legal protections for women. A NGO reported that they had regularly received over 2,600 reports of domestic violence.1 In recent years, the fertility rate in Lebanon has been decreasing. The low fertility rate has been attributed to later marrying Read More age and a divorce rate that has doubled since the late 1970s.2 Show Less
Human RightsLebanon’s security has completely deteriorated as a result of ongoing conflict in the Middle East. The government continues to struggle to meet the basic needs of over 1.5 million Syrian refugees1 now residing in Lebanon, and 70% of Syrians living in Lebanon are living under the poverty line. These refugees have faced threats, harassment, and violence from Lebanese groups. Additionally, women and migrant workers continue to face extreme abuse and torture. Prison conditions are abhorrent and political dissidents are tortured and beaten regularly.2 Lebanon has recently been criticized by domestic human rights groups for deportations of locally-born children of migrant workers. Under the government’s program, worker’s citizen/legal status in Lebanon is entirely in the hands of their employer, leaving them extremely vulnerable to exploitation.3
EducationThe United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is active within the education sector in Lebanon. This agency helps increase the quality of secondary schools and has established two vocational training centers. Despite the work of the UNRWA, Lebanon still faces challenges in providing the correct provisions for students with disabilities. Many Lebanese schools are not accessible by children with disabilities and the UNRWA has called on the government to help improve access.1 Another challenge currently facing the school system in Lebanon is the influx of Syrian refugees. The schools were not built to accommodate such an increase in children, and many Syrian children are not attending schools. The Syrian educational system is taught in Arabic and Lebanon’s school system is French-based, so not only Read More is there a nationality barrier, there is also a language barrier.2 Show Less
PovertyThere have been varying levels of poverty in Lebanon, but they have become more pronounced over the past year with the increase in refugees. The government is unwilling, and unable financially, to create official refugee camps, so around 70% of the Syrians in Lebanon are living under the poverty line.1 Their children do not have access to schools or medical care because of their extreme poverty and language differences.2 28% of the population lives below the poverty line.3
ReligionLebanon has a very diverse religious composition. 54% of the population is Muslim, with 27% being Sunni and 27% Shia. 40% of the remaining population is Christian, a majority of which are Maronite Catholic. 5% of people are Druze, and the remaining percentage is split into very small numbers of Baha’is, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Mormons.1 The government generally allows for the freedom of religious practice. There are several instances of informal discrimination, such as the mandatory inclusion of one’s religious affiliation on all official documents.2
Clean WaterLebanon is prone to droughts, resulting in a continual issue with water scarcity. Many Lebanese citizens only have access to clean water for a few hours a day and the public infrastructure often provides contaminated water due to poorly functioning sanitation systems. It is estimated that there are over 20,000 illegal wells that have been dug around Beirut and Mount Lebanon. The management of the water resources has been a source of debate for Lebanese authorities for over two decades due to the allocation of funds and how involved the private sector should be in the water system.1There is very limited and inconsistent funding from the government for water projects in Lebanon.2
EconomyLebanon’s economy functions moderately well. The country has a free-market economy with an intense laissez-faire commercial background. Foreign investments are not restricted or highly regulated by the government, but they are discouraged by red tape corruption, high taxes, and outdated legislation. The economy is service-oriented and dominated by banking and tourism. A huge public debt developed in Lebanon after the country rebuilt itself after the civil war by borrowing heavily from banks.1 There is very little public accountability of authorities, and this bureaucratic corruption is the norm rather than the exception. Authorities only loosely enforce anti-corruption laws.2
HealthThe overall health of the Lebanese people is poor. The health care system is highly privatized and expensive. Heart disease-related deaths increased by 59% between 2005 and 2016. Both communicable and noncommunicable diseases remain large risks to the Lebanese public. Behaviors such as smoking and lack of physical activity lend to the current obesity epidemic;1 32% of the population is considered obese.2 The World Health Organization has noted that the health care system in Lebanon should reduce the amount of HIV/AIDS cases, control tobacco usage, implement cancer prevention measures, and increase youth health noticeably.2 Lebanon has a National AIDS Program that aims to implement prevention programs throughout the country.3 Life expectancy is 78. Maternal mortality rates are 15 deaths per 100,000 live births, and infant Read More mortality is 7.6 deaths per 1,000 live births.4 Show Less
ChildrenThe influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon has increased child marriage rates. Some refugees sell their daughters to be married in order to provide for the remaining family members. Other families send their children to work as child laborers.1 The majority of Syrian children have been recruited by Lebanese laborers to work in the fields. These children get paid only about $5 a day. This has led to an overall exploitation of children by Lebanese employers because there is almost no legal protection for them.2
GovernmentLebanon currently is a parliamentary republic government.1 The government has seen decades of political and military turmoil including a brutal civil war, political assassinations, and the inundation of refugees. The political party Hezbollah, deemed a terrorist group by some, is active within the country and was responsible for the instigation of clashes with Israel. The government is politically corrupt and very susceptible to outside influences from Hezbollah and others. The judiciary branch is not independent, nor is it transparent. Corruption is widespread and hinders the ability of the government to hold free and fair elections.2 Lebanon is ranked 136th out of 176 countries for corruption in government, and the public places their own government in the 28th percentile for perceived corruption.3
AnimalsThe country of Lebanon is a part of the Mediterranean Basin. The brown bear, grey wolf, and lynx are native species known to reside in Lebanon. The Anatolian leopard, another native species, is considered critically endangered. Habitat destruction is rampant due to overgrazing and over-harvesting, along with civil conflict. Animals are also threatened by poaching.1
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