Youth At Risk In Lebanon
The Syrian conflict, now in its fourth year, has taken a heavy toll on Lebanon’s society.
Among those most affected are young men and women in refugee camps and marginalized communities. Young people are increasingly confronting violence and discrimination. They are missing out on education and work opportunities. The rising number of unemployed and disenfranchised youth in Lebanon could become a security risk for both Lebanese and refugee communities.
A society’s well-being relies on its youth, who can help revitalize the economy when education, health care and job opportunities are available to them.
In March 2014, ANERA undertook an in-depth, qualitative youth assessment to better understand the impact of the Syrian conflict and subsequent displacement on both Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon. The study focused on youth, aged 15 to 25, in areas most affected by the spillover of Syria’s conflict.
The study aimed at identifying the critical issues and needs of youth, their ambitions and desires and the gaps in services that are critical to their survival and well-being. There were 18 focus group discussions with Lebanese and Syrian youth and 21 interviews with local government representatives and youth organization leaders.
ANERA’s study identified three key areas of concern:
- Security is a priority for both Syrian and Lebanese youth. The highly unstable political situation and increased tensions between Syrian and Lebanese youth have fueled violence between these communities.
- The deteriorating economic situation translates into job anxiety that often overshadows youth development needs and prematurely forces youth to take on the burdens and responsibilities of adulthood.
- Both Syrian and Lebanese youth look at the future with anxiety as limited education opportunities jeopardize their development.
The report offers some recommendations for development and humanitarian practitioners and donor agencies to design and implement programs that will contribute to improving the development and livelihood of youth in the most affected areas of Lebanon. ANERA’s community development interventions rely on a long-term program that supports refugees and host communities through capacity building and empowerment of communities to develop their initiatives rather than implementing externally-designed relief projects.