The effects of the war in Syria have been disastrous for Lebanon. The country has received 1.2 million refugees, and one-fourth of the population are now refugees. Norway is one of the largest donors of humanitarian aid in support of the victims of the war in Syria.

Facts about Lebanon

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Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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The flag for Lebanon

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

The war in Syria has entered its fifth year, and a constant stream of Syrian families are forced to flee from their homes. To date, more than 2.8 million Syrians have crossed the borders to neighbouring countries.

The ripple effects of the war in Syria negatively impact upon security and stability in Lebanon. The Lebanese army is engaged in combat on its border against jihadists from the al-Nusra Front and ISIL.

The pressure on Lebanon’s school system, health services, labour market, housing market and basic social services is intense. Deteriorating living conditions as a result of the refugees’ presence help fuel increasing tension in local Lebanese communities. The majority of the refugees have settled in the most marginal areas of Lebanon. 

Before the crisis Lebanon was classified as a middle-income country, but its growth and income have been significantly reduced as a result of the situation, and unemployment has increased. The UN and the World Bank have united in encouraging donor countries to provide aid to refugees, and for development and stabilization.   

Before the crisis, Lebanon was also characterized by significant inequality and differences in living conditions between various social groups. At that time there were approximately 280 000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and in the last four years 45 000 Palestinians from Syria have fled to Lebanon.

In 2013 the World Bank and the UN published a comprehensive socioeconomic study of the ripple effects of the Syrian conflict in Lebanon. It showed a three per cent reduction in annual GDP growth, USD seven billion in revenue loss and a reduction in tourism and investments. 


Development cooperation with Lebanon

Humanitarian aid

Norway is supporting the humanitarian work for Syrian refugees in Lebanon through the UN as well as through international, Norwegian and local organizations. Support has also been granted to the World Bank multi-donor fund for mitigation of the impact of the humanitarian situation.

The fund will be devoted to development projects or economic stabilization, and will provide assurance to donor countries that the transfer of funding to Lebanese authorities is undertaken in a controlled manner and that the support will be spent for the intended purposes.

Oil for development

Norway has cooperated with Lebanese authorities on an Oil for Development (OfD) programme since 2006, the purpose of which is to ensure sustainable management of petroleum resources for the benefit of current and future generations. The cooperation includes provision of technical expertise based on lessons learned in Norway, especially with regard to management and transparency. A total of NOK 4.8 million was disbursed in 2014.

The OfD programme in Lebanon has already helped develop the strategic and legal frameworks for the petroleum sector and enhanced competence in the field of petroleum management. Agreement on the programme’s objectives means that key concerns such as cooperation between relevant institutions and environmental issues are better safeguarded. Mapping of needs and wishes from the Lebanese side further facilitates efforts to establish a sustainable petroleum sector.

Enhanced competence

Enhanced competence in civil society and the media on petroleum-related issues is a further result of the OfD programme. The Norwegian Embassy in Beirut has conducted a mapping of civil actors who can play a role in strengthening civil society and the media. The Samir Kassir Foundation and Middle East Strategic Perspectives received support to raise greater awareness in the population and greater competence in this area in Lebanese media. The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies and the Revenue Watch Institute were granted support to strengthen the civil society aspect. Some results for 2014 are as follows:

Samir Kassir Foundation:

  • Twelve Lebanese media have enhanced their competence with regard to reporting and following up petroleum-related matters
  • Five Lebanese organizations have started a joint coordination initiative vis à vis the energy sector
  • A social media tool will be available for the majority of people, and will increase awareness and knowledge among the section of the population that takes an interest in the sector.


Lebanese Center for Policy Studies:

  • 13 civil society organizations have acquired greater capacity and knowledge of petroleum-related issues to enable them to put forward their cases more effectively to actors in the sector.
  • Increased and enhanced coordination between 13 civil society organizations working with petroleum-related issues.
  • Increased knowledge of Lebanese attitudes towards and knowledge of governance

Other areas

Norway provides annual support to projects for peace and reconciliation, human rights and strengthening of the cultural sector, as well as women and gender equality in Lebanon. The Norwegian support is in itself an important contribution to building Lebanese civil society, since the bulk of funding is devoted to local or national organizations.

In the cooperation with its partners, the Norwegian Embassy in Beirut has a strong focus on women and gender equality. The gender lens is maintained at each stage of all projects that receive Norwegian support.  

Peace and reconciliation

Norway supports a number of interventions for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. Some examples of the interventions in Lebanon are as follows:

Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC): This support has helped improve the dialogue between Lebanese authorities and the Palestinian community. In addition, the LPDC has increased the capacity for development of more unified policies for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, with a view to improving their living conditions. The work on a new census of Palestinians in Lebanon has advanced.

Geneva Call: Through Geneva Call, Norway has given support since 2011 to a project aiming to protect civilians in Palestinian refugee camps against violence from armed groups. The project has helped raise awareness of the need for protection of especially vulnerable groups in the camps and provided training in humanitarian law for non-governmental armed groups. This work has resulted in increased stability and protection of civilians in the Ain el-Helowih camp through closer cooperation and dialogue between the different groups in the camp. In 2014, for the first time the Norwegian Embassy supported a local organization established as a result of the project and will continue the work of Geneva Call, made possible by local ownership and the competence acquired.

Safadi Foundation: The objective of this project is to improve knowledge and raise awareness of local government and the rights and opportunities of citizens to influence the municipality of el‑Mina, a conflict-ridden area in Tripoli in Northern Lebanon. Project results to date include enhanced competence among actors in the district with regard to social development planning, and greater participation by the inhabitants in the development of their own district.

Read more about development cooperation through


Non-governmental organizations

In 2014, Norad supported development projects by civil society organizations in Lebanon to the tune of almost NOK eleven million. The funds were channelled through Save the Children Norway, Right to Play, the Red Cross and the Norwegian Labour Party youth organization (AUF).

Save the Children provides education for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. In the 2012‒2013 school year, the proportion of children who leave before completing their schooling fell from 40 per cent to four per cent. Right to Play reported in 2013 that 96 per cent of children who had participated in the project had acquired a basic knowledge of health and hygiene. 

Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 02.10.2015