In Lebanon, many of the basic needs of refugees (such as food, fuel, hygiene items and shelter) are available through the local market. ATM bank services are also easily accessible. UNHCR Lebanon has pioneered the provision of humanitarian assistance through cash, through ATM cards and vouchers. The provision of cash cards allows refugee families to meet their basic needs and prioritize their expenditures in a dignified manner.
UNHCR’s intervention has allowed refugees to contribute to the local economy by spending the assistance at the local markets. In 2017, UNHCR has provided monthly cash assistance (USD 175 per month) to almost 30,000 households, amounting to USD 58.9 million in cash. For 2018, the number of families that will be supported will be 33,000. In addition to monthly cash assistance, UNHCR has also provided winter support to 156,000 families amounting to USD 51 million.
Cash assistance has been streamlined among different agencies through the Basic Assistance Working Group including approaches to targeting and monitoring. UNHCR and partners undertook significant efforts to ensure the assistance is provided in an efficient and effective manner to the eligible population, including through two-way communication channels (SMS, hotlines, info desks) and the establishment of a call centre.
In addition, the World Food Programme provides food assistance to Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese through the Government of Lebanon’s National Poverty Targeting Programme (NPTP) through e-cards which are loaded (USD 27 per individual) at the beginning of each month and may be used to purchase food from local shops.
Between November 2016 and March 2017, UNHCR provided integrated winter support, primarily through cash assistance targeted at assisting 870,337 Syrian refugees and 6,110 Iraq refugees, representing approximately 82 per cent of the Syrian refugee population and 28 per cent of the Iraqi refugee population in the country. Basic core relief items such as stoves, blankets, and winter clothes have also been distributed. As of March 2017, a total of 858,627 Syrian refugees and 6,128 Iraq refugees received several rounds of winter assistance.