Beirut and Mount Lebanon Governorates

The Governorates of Beirut and Mount Lebanon together comprise half of the Lebanese population-- over 2 million people. The governorates are largely urban and peri-urban. However, the sizeable area encompassed by Mount Lebanon includes some remote and rural areas. Arabic, English, and French are widely spoken in these governorates. Beirut is the administrative and economic capital of the country hosting central government institutions, including the line ministries and the General Security Office.

The capital hosts over 305,000 refugees; nearly 9,000 refugees live in one informal settlement, one Palestine refugee camp and three Palestinian gatherings located in the capital. Lebanon also hosts around 250,000 migrant domestic workers, primarily from East Asia and Africa, the majority of whom live in Beirut. Mount Lebanon is a peri-urban/rural area that stretches across nearly 2,000 km2. The governorate is divided into six districts, namely: Baabda, Aley, Metn, Keserwan, Chouf and Jbeil. Mount Lebanon hosts one-quarter of all persons identified as deprived as a result of poverty or displacement in Lebanon.

Context

There have been increased reports of arrests of extremists, raids of sex trafficking rings, and protests over the persisting garbage crisis now entering its tenth month. The security situation in the governorates of Mount Lebanon and Beirut is relatively stable, but is subject to rapid change, notably in the latter. Beirut governorate has remained relatively stable, yet the threat of attack or instability as a result of spill-over from the conflict in Syria, inter alia, persists.

Since the beginning of this year, there have been multiple arrests of alleged extremist threats in Beirut, following the November 2015 ISIS attacks in city’s southern suburbs. There has also been a number of arrests related to sex trafficking in greater Beirut in the last four months including the March 2016 raid of the Jounieh trafficking ring that rescued some 75 girls from forced pros-titution, and the April 2016 raid of the Khaldeh sex trafficking ring. Stability is duly being undermined by the persistent trash crisis which began in Lebanon in the summer of 2015 and which has not been fully resolved to date. A significant number of protests have been organized this year to contest the trash crisis; demonstrations have been largely peaceful.

Humanitarian trends 

The two governorates of Mount Lebanon and Beirut collectively host over 300,000 refugees and persons considered highly vulnerable. Identifying persons-in-need and assisting them is challenged by the hard-to-reach and/or remote nature of some areas in Mount Lebanon. High costs associated with urban and peri-urban life are sliding already vulnerable persons towards increasing vulnerability: rental fees are 45 per cent higher in these governorates than in other areas; average household debt is nearly 40 per cent higher than the rest of the country; and household dependency on food vouchers as the primary livelihood source more than tripled from 11 per cent to 35 per cent-- a worrying trend illustrating increasing food vulnerability.

Major protection issues for refugees in Beirut and Mount Lebanon include insecurity of tenure and the risk of eviction, and the lack of legal residency to remain. There has been an observed increase in debts, poverty and negative coping mechanisms among Palestine Refugees from Syria (PRS). In Beirut, humanitarian issues of note include endemic child labour and begging, increasing number of refugees renting shelter and accordant rising costs; and severe protection vulnerability for PRS.

Mount Lebanon hosts the largest number of poor Lebanese and Syrian refugees. Unemployment is high and resources scarce, factors that have created some tensions between the two vulnerable groups. The high strain on water and sanitation services, as a result of the large influx of refugees, high altitude and scarce water resources, has required rehabilitation and extension of the water network and sanitation services. However, access to improved sanitation facilities is highest in Mount Lebanon (94 per cent) compared to other governorates in Lebanon.