Conflict in South Lebanon 

Since October 2023, the conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories  has rapidly spread to other Middle Eastern countries, particularly Lebanon. Exchanges of fire between the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah and other armed groups on the southern Lebanese border are ongoing on a daily basis and are causing civilian casualties and almost 100 thousand of internally displaced persons. The bombings are destroying homes, public infrastructure and polluting agricultural land. Existing vulnerabilities among the Lebanese and refugee population in the country have been exacerbated and displaced people often face poor access to food, basic necessities and health care. Many people have lost their jobs, others are living in insecure areas, separated from the rest of their families, to avoid losing their income. Also, people affected are paying a heavy toll in terms of mental health. INTERSOS has intervened since the first days of the crisis, assessing the protection needs of more than 5,000 displaced people and providing an immediate response through the distribution of essential goods, psychological and psychosocial support and case management of vulnerable people.

THE IMPACT OF THE CONFLICT

 

On 8 October 2023, daily exchanges of fire began between the Israel Defence Forces (IDF)  and Hezbollah and other armed groups, within a 10 km radius from the southern Lebanese border, mainly in the districts of Bint Jbeil, Marjayoun, Hasbaya and Tyre. Since January 2024, shelling has extended further, involving the districts of Nabatieh and Jezzine.

The ongoing violence in South Lebanon has not spared civilians, including women, children and media personnel. To date, 39 civilians have been killed and 771 injured

In recent months, we are witnessing mass displacements of Lebanese, Syrian refugees, Palestinians and migrants moving north to escape hostilities, mainly in Tyre, Saida and Beirut. We speak, to date, of 88,276 displaced persons.

Families affected by insecurity have left their homes and moved to different districts in South Lebanon and Nabatieh or to other governorates in Lebanon, particularly Bekaa and Mount Lebanon. According to the Consortium Protection Monitoring, internal displacements increased by 9% from November to December, mainly due to security problems.

The shelling also destroyed houses, public infrastructure and agricultural land that caught fire in the impact of the ordnance. 50 public schools located in border villages had to close, either completely or partially, leaving more than 6,000 children without access to education. In the areas most affected by the conflict, such as Marjayoun and Bint Jbeil, some health facilities have been forced to close and the number of medical consultations in primary facilities is decreasing.

THE MAIN VULNERABILITIES AMONG DISPLACED PEOPLE

 

From the beginning of November to the end of December 2023, we assessed the protection needs of 5,527 displaced people in the governorates of South Lebanon and Nabatieh.

Displacement in recent months has exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities among those affected and reduced their ability to secure basic needs and live in safety. Based on the results of the needs assessment conducted by our staff, as a result of the conflict 89% of households have limited or no ability to purchase food, 84% have limited or no ability to access hygiene kits, 70% have lost their ability to purchase basic necessities, 61% have lost their ability to purchase water, and 26% have lost their ability to cover the costs of chronic illnesses.

Access to essential services was also hampered by several factors related to the socio-economic and legal situation of displaced families. 71% stated that they had lost their jobs and livelihoods, 50% lacked information on services available in the areas they moved to, and 3% reported that they had lost access to their legal documents.

Furthermore, having no alternative sources of income, many people chose to remain in risky areas or to move between safe and unsafe areas, in order to continue doing seasonal work, such as olive harvesting. To ensure the safety of their families without losing their livelihoods, several men chose to remain in the border areas, while their wives and children moved elsewhere, in effect separating the head of the family from the rest of the household.

Assessed needs

Families with limited or no ability to purchase food: 89%
Families with limited or no ability to access hygiene kits: 84%
Families who have lost the ability to purchase basic necessities: 70%
Families who have lost the ability to purchase water: 61%
Families who have lost the ability to cover costs related to chronic diseases: 26%
Families who have lost their jobs and livelihoods: 71%
Families who had no information about available services: 50%
Families who have lost access to their legal documents: 3%

INTERSOS INTERVENTION

On the basis of this assessment and of the needs that emerged, we provided an immediate response by distributing basic necessities, providing initial psychological assistance and psychosocial support services and managing the cases of vulnerable people identified.

928 families of 3,989 people received hygiene kits, mattresses, blankets, cholera kits, sanitary pads and napkins for adults and children. In parallel, over 2,000 people received cash assistance to meet their protection needs. Of these, 63% were of Syrian origin, while 37% were Lebanese. 

The INTERSOS team in Lebanon has been active in responding to this crisis since 12 October, activating an Emergency Response Team (ERT) composed of 23 frontline workers, including social workers, psychologists and protection experts.

The rapid deterioration of the situation on the southern borders forced INTERSOS to close, first partially and then completely, three Community Day Care Centres located near the border. However, within our safe spaces in Tyr, Nabatieh and Saida, we provided integrated assistance to 755 people through emergency cash distributions, distribution of basic necessities and referrals to specialised services.

An INTERSOS team also intervened in 4 collective shelters in the district of Tyre: the Lebanese German University, the Technical School of Tyre, the Intermediate School for Girls in Tyre and the National School of Tyre. Our staff carried out a number of interventions to ensure privacy and security, installing locks and solar panels to ensure lighting and creating separate spaces. We also secured the electrical system and made the toilets accessible to the people with disabilities. We provided water tanks and fire extinguishers.

In order to strengthen resilience within the displaced communities we also organised community based initiatives. We directly provided displaced people who moved from Kfarchuba to Saida with training on psychological first aid in order to impart the skills needed to directly support individuals in the community who are continuously moving. In Sour and Nabatieh, meanwhile, we trained community members who volunteered to become community teachers for children who are out of school due to war or displacement.

INTERSOS launched its emergency response thanks to the support of ECHO, PRM and regular funding from UNHCR.

 

5.527

Individual assessments of protection needs

3.989

People received basic necessities

2.000

People received cash assistance

755

People received integrated care

OUR SUPPORT TO THE SYRIAN REFUGEE COMMUNITY

At the outbreak of the conflict, we saw several signs that the Syrian refugees present could be neglected in the emergency response. Moreover, several Municipalities issued Restrictive Memos that seriously affected the already critical situation of Syrian refugees and further limited their capacity of movement. To mitigate these challenges, in addition to advocating in support of the Syrian population, we worked to ensure that our response focused on internally displaced Syrian refugees. Through our network of  staff and outreach volunteers in Nabatieh Governorate, we focused on supporting those outside the collective shelters, conducting in-person visits to accessible areas and providing remote responses within the red zones.