The COVID-19 crisis in Lebanon calls for immediate action, because the effects on the many refugees and the rest of the country are enormous. Research done by organizations gathered in the Refugee Protection Watch, including PAX, covers the impact of the crisis on the humanitarian situation, issues regarding discrimination against refugees, its impact on human rights and the work of civil society.
Take for instance the access to hygiene materials, or aid: 85% of respondents reported that they do not have access to or the possibility to buy sufficient sterilization and hygiene materials. Amongst Syrian respondents this figure was 89%. When respondents were asked if they had received any help in the form of food rations, sterilization and cleaning materials, only 4.5% responded saying that they had received some aid.
The research includes a set of recommendations to Lebanese and international policy-makers. Some of the other key findings in the briefing are:
- The impacts of COVID-19 and associated restrictions on refugees’ and host communities incomes are severe: 80% of all respondents to the survey and 85% of Syrian and Syrian-Palestinian respondents answered that they had lost their main source of income, due to the lockdown measures making it impossible to work.
- There are concerns and fears regarding discrimination against refugees: Discrimination regarding public health measures such a curfews and movement restrictions could have a very negative impact on the human rights of refugees, as well as threaten the efficacy of these emergency measures. The principle of non-discrimination must guide all restrictions and all access to healthcare alike.
- Local civil society are key: Local civil society are of central importance in all parts of an effective emergency response to COVID19. Their work on human rights and peacebuilding issues – which predate and are exacerbated by he crisis – is also crucial at this time.
- Human rights and civic space should be protected: The necessary restrictions put in place reduce the impact of COVID-19 should not lead to backsliding on human rights or restrictions on dissent.
The research by the “Refugee Protection Watch” coalition –PAX, Basmeh & Zeitooneh, ALEF – Act for Human Rights, 11.11.11 and Upinion – uses information observed by coalition members through their work in Lebanon, as well as through a digital survey among 429 Syrians, Syrian-Palestinians, Lebanese, and Palestinian-Lebanese respondents.