Lebanese Families Struggle to Meet Basic Needs, Pushing Children into Labor Market: UNICEF

Lebanese Families Struggle to Meet Basic Needs, Pushing Children into Labor Market: UNICEF

Shafaq News/ A recent survey conducted by UNICEF in Lebanon reveals that Lebanese families can barely meet their basic needs, leading to an alarming rise in child labor as families desperately attempt to survive the country's deepening social and economic crisis.

Based on a rapid assessment of living standards for children in Lebanon, the UNICEF report paints a dire picture of the situation, with approximately 9 out of 10 families lacking the financial means to purchase essential items, forcing them into drastic measures to cope with the crisis.

According to Edward Bigbeder, UNICEF's representative in Lebanon, the multifaceted and escalating crises children face in Lebanon have resulted in a distressing, desperate, and unbearable situation. The crises have severely impacted children's morale, mental health and jeopardized their hope for a better future.

The report highlights the following key findings:

-Fifteen percent of families have halted their children's education, compared to 10 percent the previous year, with a 52 percent reduction in education spending compared to 38 percent the previous year.

-Three-quarters of households have cut spending on healthcare, a significant increase from 6 in 10 households the previous year.

-Two out of five households have been forced to sell their assets, up from one in five the previous year.

-More than one in 10 families have resorted to sending children to work, rising to nearly one in four for families of displaced Syrians.

Despite adopting desperate coping mechanisms, many families still struggle to afford an adequate quantity and quality of food and medical treatment. The crisis has also exacerbated "menstrual poverty," with over half of women and girls surveyed reporting insufficient access to feminine hygiene supplies due to their high cost.

The report highlights the immense pressure faced by caregivers, leading to feelings of anger towards their children. Six out of ten caregivers expressed a strong urge to yell at their children, and two out of ten admitted to having felt so angry that they could have resorted to physical violence against their children in the past two weeks, according to the UNICEF survey.

The escalating tensions have severely affected children's mental health, with seven out of ten caregivers reporting their children appearing worried, stressed, and agitated. Nearly half of the respondents stated that their children seemed "very sad" or "frequently depressed."

UNICEF emphasizes that the gaps in Lebanon's national social protection system and limited access to essential services, particularly education, and healthcare, further hinder families' ability to cope with the crisis.

Consequently, UNICEF urges the Lebanese government to expedite the implementation of the recently developed National Social Protection Strategy, which includes plans to provide social grants to the most vulnerable families and those raising children.

The statement also calls on Lebanese authorities to invest in education through comprehensive national reforms and policies, ensuring that all children, especially the most vulnerable, receive high-quality education.

Edward Bigbeder emphasized that increased investment in essential services for children, such as education, health, and social protection, will help alleviate the impact of the crisis, ensure the well-being and survival of future generations, and contribute to the recovery of the Lebanese economy.

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