WFP/Ellie Kealey

The Situation

With some 4.5 million people living in an area of just 3,800 square miles on the eastern Mediterranean coast, Lebanon is small and densely populated. Despite its location in one of the world’s most unsettled regions, the country has been spared the worst of the political and economic woes besetting some of its neighbors.

Lebanon’s geographical position and relatively peaceful climate have made it a destination for more than 1 million Syrian refugees. As of June 2016, almost 1.1 million Syrians have registered with UNHCR, recording the world’s highest per capita concentration of refugees compared to its population.

The massive influx of refugees not only increased Lebanon’s population by about 25 percent, but also placed significant strain on existing government resources and host communities. Almost all of Lebanon’s municipalities now host Syrian refugees. While food is readily available for purchase in Lebanon, many refugees have exhausted their savings. Paid work is scarce across the country, making it hard to earn an income.

World Food Programme's Work

WFP re-established a presence in Lebanon in 2012 after having left in 1997.

That year, following an official request from the Government, WFP began to respond to the Syria crisis when thousands of Syrian families began fleeing to Lebanon. Under this Regional Emergency Operation, WFP provides food assistance to vulnerable Syrian refugees and Lebanese families through e-cards, as well as cash, food vouchers or e-cards to Palestinian refugees from Syria.

Each month, UNHCR-registered Syrian refugees receive individual rations, which can be exchanged for food of their choice in any of the 410 WFP-contracted shops across the country. E-cards were adopted as the primary mode of assistance in Lebanon as local markets are capable of providing sufficient food for the host and refugee populations alike, eliminating the need to import large food quantities. Additionally, they enable families to choose their preferred foods, allowing them to meet their consumption and nutritional needs effectively.

WFP is also working closely with FAO and other partners to explore resilience and livelihood assistance to vulnerable host communities to help ease some of the strain. The UN agency is seeking to move to resilience-based interventions beyond 2015, as well as greater cost efficiency and effectiveness through refined targeting to reach the most vulnerable registered Syrian refugees.

Articles About Lebanon

WFP/Edward Johnson

Rebuilding a Life in Lebanon

Hussein, a seasoned construction worker, built an oasis. It was on this rooftop in Damascus that he and his son, Mohamed, would gaze up at the night sky. One night,…

World food program usa

WFP/Kelly Stablein

Swipe for Life

When war broke out in Syria, Muna—an Iraqi refugee—was forced to flee to Lebanon with her family. Her grocery list transformed overnight—from the fresh foods she loved to buy in…

WFP/Edward Johnson

When Refugee Children Go To School, WFP is There

For Syrian refugees, many rest easy knowing what their children will enjoy when they walk through the doors of their classrooms far away from home: a nutritious school meal.

World food program usa

A young boy sits on the curb with his school meal bag beside him and drinks from a juice box
WFP/Edward Johnson

Meet the Children Aiming for an A+ in Nutrition

How Lebanon’s Ministry of Education is boosting awareness for an entire generation

Guest contributor

Rasha lives in the Tartous region of Syria, where WFP is supporting farmers. Her family fled Aleppo, where she was born, but she doesn't remember the city.
WFP/Dina El-Kassaby

Six Years in Syria: Innovation on the Front Lines

Today marks the 6th anniversary of the conflict in Syria.

World food program usa

WFP/Abeer Etefa

Faces Of The Displaced: Nasser From Syria

Every year, the U.N. World Food Programme delivers food assistance to 80 million men, women and children across the globe, lifting families out of poverty and hunger when they need…

Aliya Karim

VIDEO: Life As A 10-Year-Old Refugee In Lebanon

Mohammed Al Talal is a Syrian refugee in Lebanon. At just 10 years old, he is the family breadwinner—literally. Four years ago, Mohammed's family fled their home in Syria to…

M.J. Altman

Global News/Leslie Young

Hope Looks Like: Dignity In Hand

Updated April 25, 2018 WFP's e-vouchers might look like regular prepaid debit cards, but for Syrians like Ali Farhat, they represent a lifeline for his family as the crisis enters its 8th year.…

M.J. Altman

Refugees From Birth: Welcoming Triplets In Lebanon

"How do you tell them apart?" I ask Jalila, the grandmother of newborn triplets in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. "I just know," she replies confidently. The baby boy in her hand, she notes,…

Warda Al-Jawahiry