The economic depression Lebanon is facing has led to rapidly rising vulnerability and exacerbating inequalities. This is specifically the case for vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities.
On this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, UNICEF and ILO partnered with the European Union to strengthen the national social protection system and launch a new national disability allowance that will provide direct income support to people with disabilities living in Lebanon.
Our initiative aims to reach around 20,000 people with disabilities, including Lebanese and non-Lebanese alike, provided that they be identified from existing databases as well as future applications across the country. Monthly cash grants will be provided directly to recipients in USD. As a new national social assistance programme, it will be established in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs as part of an expanding national package of social protection benefits.
“The European Union continues to support people in Lebanon, who are left behind in this prolonged crisis. Apart from support to maintaining jobs in Lebanon, the European Union is leading on providing assistance to the most vulnerable people. The signing of this new project with UNICEF and ILO, is a testament to our combined commitment on safeguarding the life and future of all those in need. We call for the adoption of the Social Protection Strategy to allow people with vulnerabilities, disabilities, and other forms of special needs to have a fighting chance in life, and we count on the commitment of the government of Lebanon for speedy reforms; the road to recovery begins with those who are in most and urgent need” – said Alessia SQUARCELLA; Deputy Head of Cooperation at the European Union Delegation to Lebanon.
UNICEF and ILO have been leading technical support to the Government of Lebanon and national stakeholders to develop the National Social Protection Strategy. To advance the strategy’s implementation rapidly, several key gaps need to be filled. As yet, no social assistance exists in Lebanon to address lifecycle vulnerabilities. As a result, UNICEF and ILO’s Social Grant programme lays out the foundations for an inclusive social protection floor in Lebanon in line with the national Reform, Recovery & Reconstruction Framework.
“Today, the pathway out of Lebanon’s dire situation and beyond requires an urgent scale-up of social assistance and an overhaul of its social protection system to ensure that future generations are not lost to a cycle of intergenerational vulnerability and poverty,” said Yukie Mokuo UNICEF Representative in Lebanon. The most pressing action at this stage is immediate protection for the most vulnerable and, with the support of the European Union, UNICEF and the ILO are working with the Ministry of Social Affairs to put in place a new programme for people with disabilities alongside UNICEF’s Child Grant programme already in place, known as Haddi”.
“Promoting an equitable social protection system in Lebanon that is accessible to all across their lifecycle is critical to address the implications of the current crisis. The road to recovery and growth largely depends on early investments in providing basic income security to the population. Social assistance programs such as the National Disability Allowance and Social Pensions can provide such guarantees to those that urgently needs them” said ILO Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat.
At a time when Lebanon is facing an ongoing and worsening economic crisis, reforming and developing the national social protection system within the framework of a National Social Protection Strategy, is a necessity. It is also very urgent to scale-up social assistance and to address the glaring gaps in the system. The two initiatives of Haddi and the national Disability Allowance, as well as building the foundations of a social pension, are necessary and urgent steps in that direction, not only targeting the poorest households but also those individuals facing various vulnerabilities in childhood, working age, and old age.