© Nicolas Danicourt


Syrians living in Lebanon


Palestinian refugees still living in Lebanon


Lebanese people living in extreme poverty in 2020

Médecins du Monde’s emergency response includes a range of humanitarian assistance programmes. Find out more below about our work and missions in Lebanon.


Ten years after the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Lebanon remains a fragile country marked by conflict and severe institutional and social instability.

Lebanon is currently in the midst of a crisis characterised by an acute economic recession and political problems linked to governance issues. Inflation reached as high as 519%, with a peak of 1,874% for food products and non-alcoholic drinks. This has led to a sharp drop in household purchasing power and a rise in poverty rates among all population groups.

In addition, as one of the main host countries for exiled Palestinians and Syrians, Lebanon is in need of humanitarian action focused on reception and integration policies for refugee populations.

A humanitarian emergency


    In summer 2021 the fuel crisis exacerbated the country’s economic situation, severely affecting electricity supplies. This had grave consequences for the healthcare, sanitation, transport and telecommunications sectors. Although the fuel crisis eased in late 2021, electricity provision by the State remained weak, with an average of less than 5 hours’ supply per day.


    As the crisis worsened, the country’s economy slowed further, leaving refugees and host communities in a desperate situation. This was compounded by the unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the explosion at Beirut’s port in August 2020.


    There has also been an impact on the safety of women and children, with acute risks around child protection and gender-based violence. In particular, the number of child marriages and the prevalence of child labour have both increased, as has domestic abuse – verbal, physical and sexual. Access to education was also negatively affected by the pandemic, with schools partially closed during the 2020-2021 academic year to limit the spread of Covid-19.


    According to the UN, the rate of multidimensional poverty has almost doubled, soaring from 42% in 2019 to 82% in 2021. By the end of 2021, 60% of the country’s population was living below the poverty line. Extreme multidimensional poverty affects 34% of the population, rising to half in some regions. In these conditions, our team on the ground and local healthcare workers report that vulnerable households are increasingly having to find coping mechanisms to survive from day to day and are delaying accessing healthcare and treatment.


    Lebanon is dealing with an enormous influx of refugees. Over 5.5 million Syrians – men, women and children – have fled the civil war which has been raging in their country since 2011. Most have found refuge in neighbouring countries and over a third have fled to Lebanon, where 90% of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees are living in extreme poverty.

    In Lebanon today one person in four is a refugee.


    Scattered across hundreds of locations in Lebanon, often in the poorest parts of the country, the Syrian refugees experience difficulties in accessing essential services. Although Lebanon has provided refuge to Palestinians for over 70 years, the burden of this new influx of Syrian refugees is beginning to weigh heavily on the shoulders of the Lebanese people, at times making it difficult for the different communities to coexist.


    The population increase places a severe strain on essential services, such as water, healthcare and education, which were already failing to meet the needs of the Lebanese people.


    As a result, the Lebanese authorities have introduced a series of measures to restrict the numbers of refugees arriving, in particular by refusing to set up official refugee camps or by blocking their registration. This situation highlights the vulnerability of the refugees and increases their desire to leave Lebanon and travel to countries which are more welcoming.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon with Cyrus North


Médecins du Monde’s humanitarian assistance in Lebanon comprises several elements, with the priority being medical assistance for Lebanese people caught in the crossfire of the crisis.



    Following the catastrophic explosion in Beirut of Tuesday 4 August 2020, in which 200 people died and 6,500 were injured, Médecins du Monde intensified its humanitarian action in Lebanon. We have been working with people affected by the explosion to enable them to access psychological support and humanitarian aid.


    Lebanon is currently experiencing one of the worst economic crises in its history. The explosion in Beirut and the Covid-19 health crisis have presented this already multiply traumatised country with yet more challenges.


    In the first two months after the explosion, the teams saw over 1,000 people – men, women and children. Demand was significant and providing follow-up for the victims was essential. To consolidate our action we established a local base in Karantina, the area closest to the port and where the worst destruction took place.


    We continue to provide mental health consultations at this centre and plan to be involved long-term to help with the city’s reconstruction. Following the explosion at the port of Beirut in August 2020, 942 consultations were provided in the district of Karantina as part of a medical assistance plan for Lebanon focusing on local communities.


    In 2020, Médecins du Monde worked in the Beqaa Valley, Beirut and the Mount Lebanon region – in El Qaa, Baalbek, Beirut, Kamid el-Loz, El Ain and Aley.



    Médecins du Monde provides primary healthcare and medicines to Syrian refugees and the most vulnerable members of the Lebanese population. Cooperation with local partners ensures they have access to good quality care and medicines. We safeguard the effectiveness of our humanitarian work in Lebanon through support and capacity-building for teams of volunteers from the refugee communities.


    We are working particularly closely with AMEL, a Lebanese NGO with a universal, international vision of access to healthcare, and also with Skoun, Embrace, ABAAD, the National Mental Health Programme, Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut, the ICRC, Humanity and Inclusion and the parish of El Qaa.


    Médecins du Monde is currently supporting a primary healthcare centre and a mobile clinic in the Beqaa Valley, where large numbers of Syrian refugees are living in very precarious conditions.


    In response to the psychological problems experienced by the Syrian and Lebanese populations, psychotherapists provide consultations and ensure patients receive treatment at the centres we support. People with more serious mental health problems are referred to specialist services.


    Médecins du Monde also runs awareness-raising sessions for Syrian refugees and the most vulnerable Lebanese communities. The aim is partly to reduce the level of discrimination towards patients with mental health problems and partly to provide them with information about access to mental healthcare and what services are available near where they live.


    The Médecins du Monde team is supported by community workers whose role includes awareness-raising, prevention and referral so that people are directed to the appropriate facilities within their communities.


    We have helped to establish community mental health centres at the public Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut, and in Baalbek. These centres work in conjunction with a dedicated service for people who use drugs managed by our partner, Skoun. Important work has also been undertaken with the Ministry of Public Health’s National Mental Health Programme, which is seeking to establish a public mental health service accessible to everyone throughout Lebanon.


    This work of integrating mental health into the national health service also involves building the capacity of healthcare staff by delivering training in techniques which will help them to identify mental health conditions and provide adequate care to patients. This is something we are doing in the northern city of Tripoli, for example.


    Finally, in cooperation with other national and international organisations, MdM is part of advocacy initiatives to develop policy and practice in relation to the right to health – including mental health – for all.​


    In 2021, we:

    • provided 72,756 primary healthcare consultations
    • provided 13,218 mental health and psychosocial support consultations
    • led 17 training sessions for health centre staff
    • trained 120 healthcare professionals
    • provided 4,833 sexual and reproductive health consultations
    • delivered 17 training sessions for healthcare staff
    • supported 3 primary healthcare centres, 2 community mental healthcare centres and 1 mobile medical unit


Médecins du Monde is also working in partnership with regional and international academic institutions to expand mental health research in the Middle East.


In 2020, as part of our humanitarian work in the country, our teams implemented a research project in Lebanon in partnership with local and international institutions. t-CETA is a pilot project to trial the development, management and evaluation of a phone-based psychological intervention for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. This project is being run in collaboration with Queen Mary University of London, the American University of Beirut, Johns Hopkins University and Medical School Hamburg.

  • €3,505,697

    Budget in 2021.


Budget in 2021.

  • 1990

    Refurbishment of medical infrastructure damaged during the civil war.

  • 1996

    Emergency assistance for people displaced by the war between Lebanon and Israel. This programme closed in 1998.

  • 2001

    Intervention at the physical and psychological rehabilitation centre for 3,000 former detainees from the Israeli prison in Khiam.

  • 2006

    Projects providing medical, social and legal assistance in around 15 prisons until 2008.

  • 2012

    Access to healthcare programme for Syrian refugees and the most vulnerable members of the Lebanese population.

  • 2017

    Opening of the first mental health unit in a public general hospital in Beirut.