BEIRUT — Lebanese residents with disabilities will benefit from direct income support in US dollars, two UN agencies alongside the EU announced Thursday.
Here is what we know:
• The United Nations children’s fund, UNICEF, and the International Labour Organization in partnership with the European Union launched a program Thursday to support the national social protection strategy. Under this initiative’s umbrella, disabled people will be allocated a yet undetermined monetary allowance.
• A UNICEF spokesperson clarified that details about the payment amounts and whether they will be annual or monthly have not yet been determined. “The mechanism is still under preparation and will be announced in January,” the spokesperson told L’Orient Today.
• This initiative aims to reach around 20,000 people with disabilities, whether Lebanese or non-Lebanese, living in Lebanon provided that they are identified on existing databases or planning to sign up for future applications, a press release from UNICEF specifies, adding that this new national social assistance program will be established in collaboration with the Social Affairs Ministry.
• “... We call for the adoption of the social protection strategy to allow people with vulnerabilities, disabilities and other forms of special needs to have a fighting chance in life, and we count on the commitment of the government of Lebanon for speedy reforms,” said Alessia Aquarcella, deputy head of cooperation at the European Union delegation to Lebanon.
• The UN agencies have been leading technical support in Lebanon to develop the national social protection strategy. Last month, Premier Najib Mikati announced after a meeting with the UN agencies, including the World Food Program, that the first draft of a social protection strategy for Lebanon was complete.
• The country is presently without a social assistance mechanism to address lifecycle vulnerabilities.
• Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF’s representative in Lebanon, explained that the way out of Lebanon’s socio-economic crisis “requires an urgent scale-up of social assistance and an overhaul of its social protection system to ensure that future generations are not lost to a cycle of intergenerational vulnerability and poverty.”
• ILO regional director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat emphasized the importance of promoting an equitable social protection system, which is accessible to all, noting that it “is critical to address the implications of the current crisis” and that “the road to recovery and growth largely depends on early investments in providing basic income security to the population.”