Lebanon has substantial economic strengths but is marked by dramatic inequalities and deep sectarian rivalries that are the source of recurring political instability. In 1990, the country's fifteen-year civil war ended with an agreement for power-sharing governing arrangements based on religious affiliation. The multi-religious character of Lebanese society and the role of Christians in all aspects of the country's life make Lebanon culturally unique in the Arab world. Commenting on the long but often troubled history of coexistence among the country's Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims and Druzes, Pope John Paul II said, "Lebanon is more than a country. Lebanon is a message!" During this time of historic change in the Arab world, Catholic Relief Services is working with the Lebanese Church and other partners to promote civic engagement in order to strengthen the county's fragile inter-religious peace and coexistence.
Since the unrest in Syria began in March 2011, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled their homes and sought refuge in Lebanon. The flow of refugees continues to increase with daily border crossings. Refugees in Lebanon are scattered across the country in more than 700 municipalities. The government estimates there are 1,000,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, out of which around 400,000 are registered or in the process of being registered by UNHCR. The Syrian crisis is also impacting Lebanon with an increased level of internal political tensions and localized sectarian clashes.
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|Population:||4,131,583 (July 2013 est.)|
|Size:||4,015 sq. mi.; about 3/4 the size of Connecticut|
Throughout Lebanon's long civil war, under very difficult circumstances Catholic Relief Services provided humanitarian assistance and reconstructed war-damaged infrastructure on a non-sectarian basis. CRS' regional office for Europe and the Middle East was relocated to Beirut in 2004. We re-established a Lebanon country program office during the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, assisting more than 250,000 war-displaced people. Following the ceasefire, CRS invested more than $15 million to rebuild livelihoods, public buildings and community infrastructure. Since then, CRS has focused on strengthening our Lebanese partner organizations, empowering youth as active citizens, promoting good governance at the local level, and piloting new ways for Lebanese communities to identify rising sectarian tensions and act early to prevent them from escalating to violence.
St. Joseph University
Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability