By Naim Berjawi
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AA) – At least one million children in Lebanon are at risk of different forms of violence, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
In a report, UNICEF cited the deepening economic crisis in the Arab country as a main reason for the danger of violence facing Lebanese children.
“One in two children in Lebanon is at serious risk of physical, emotional, or sexual violence, as families struggle to cope in the country’s deepening crisis,” UNICEF said.
The report noted that children “as young as six are now working on farms, on the streets and illegally selling fuel, putting them at risk of serious burns and even death”, adding that as they work, the children are also “frequently exposed to other threats, such as abuse, violence and sexual exploitation.”
“The number of cases of child abuse and exploitation handled by UNICEF and partners shot up by almost half (44 percent) between October 2020 and October 2021, from 3,913 to 5,621 cases,” it said.
Moreover, about 1.8 million children are believed “to be experiencing multidimensional poverty, up from around 900,000 in 2019,” the report read, adding that children in such households are at high risk of being forced by their families into “child labor or child marriage to help make ends meet.”
The report noted that “Lebanon is reeling from the impact of national financial and political turmoil, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the aftermath of the August 2020 Beirut Port explosion.”
The explosion killed 219 people, injured about 7,000 others, and left a massive trail of damage in the capital Beirut.
Since late 2019, Lebanon has been grappling with severe domestic challenges, including a currency devaluation against the US dollar, along with fuel and medicine shortage.
*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar