- 541,000 children are at increased risk of forced child marriage and child labour
- Many also at high risk of mental health issues
- Explosion compounded already desperate situation caused by COVID-19 and economic crisis
February 4, 2021 – More than 540,000 children in Lebanon are at risk of being forced into early marriage and child labour, as they and their families do it tougher than ever six months on from the mammoth blast that rocked the capital Beirut.
The explosion heaped another layer of suffering on the residents of Beirut who were already dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and a crippling economic crisis. World Vision is reporting that schools are still closed, health facilities are not accessible, families cannot work or afford food, and water is not running – despite a swift and effective global response to the blast.
The result is chronic; 541,000 vulnerable children are at risk of child labour and child marriage as their families struggle to support them. Numbers of children and caregivers reporting mental health and psycho-social support concerns are soaring, and if left unsupported, this will expose children to high risks of mental health problems.
World Vision Lebanon Country Director Hans Bederski said: “The World Vision team in Lebanon is extremely grateful to those who provided immediate support after the explosion, but we ask you to remember that just because they have left the headlines, it doesn’t mean the people of Beirut no longer need help.
“The emergency situation following the explosion may have calmed, but the Lebanese people still struggle to survive numerous ongoing crises. COVID-19 has left parents with no work and their children with no access to education and at risk of forced labour and marriage. It is almost impossible for these people to overcome this dire situation on their own. We call on the international community to prioritise the children of Lebanon who are facing an impossible situation. If we do not act now, the protection and wellbeing of thousands of children will be jeopardised.”
World Vision has called on the world to invest in keeping children in schools and prioritising child protection and mental health support. The aid agency will continue to plan for future emergency interventions to address the needs of 163,000 people impacted by the explosion. It is responding with child protection programs, water, sanitation, hygiene, livelihood assistance, shelter and education.
“Six months ago, families in Beirut who were already struggling to survive COVID-19 and an economic crisis were forced to deal with another catastrophe in the form of a devastating explosion. Six months later they have not recovered. In fact, things are worse for them. We call for international solidarity for the people of Lebanon, they are in no less of a crisis situation now than they were on August 4,” Mr Bederski said.