Diakonia - People change the world
stripe Photo: Aida Burnett Cargill


Lebanon is a country historically marked by internal conflict and an unstable relationship to its neighbors. The civil war ended in 1989, but the clashes remain and there is a fear that the war will flare up again. The conflict in Syria affects the lives of people in Lebanon in many ways.

11/3/2013 Publisher: Rodolph Gebrael

Unstable and polarized country

Lebanon is a demographically and geographically highly diverse country, which follows a confessional political system that distributes power as evenly as possible among its various religious groups, of which 18 are officially recognised.

It is a society where violent incidents regularly occur, with journalists, activists and politicians as frequent targets of violence.

Lebanon's complex religious and ethnic make-up has led to ideological and political views becoming polarised and fragmented between alliances amongst the 18 recognised sects, which escalated into a fifteen year-long civil war (1975-1990) involving the Lebanese and other engaged parties, like Israel, Syria, Palestine and others. Though the civil war ended, the country is unstable and the sectarian and violent tension rise from time to time.

Highly affected by the Syrian conflict

Lebanon is one of the most affected countries by the Syrian crisis. The number of refugees fleeing to Lebanon from Syria has passed all predictions and shows no sign of abating. On the internal level, the Syrian civil war has spilled over into Lebanon and has resulted in violent unrest between Lebanese opponents and supporters of the Syrian government. Kidnappings of civilians have taken place several times for Lebanese and Syrians on borders as well as for Lebanese people outside of Lebanon.

Work in female prisons

When it comes to women's rights, Diakonia has a long track record of working to reduce the violence against women and strengthen their civil rights. Among other things, Diakonia and our partner organizations with the support of EU, do advocacy work in all female prisons of Lebanon to add a gender perspective to penal law and also to prepare the women's reintegration in society. The project is called "Promoting Human Rights Policy and Practice in Lebanese Women's Prisons", and it serves women detainees and prisoners through providing services, improving the conditions in the prisons, and supporting rehabilitation and preparation for their reintegration into society.

Thematic strategies

In Diakonia's work in Lebanon, we commit to several priority areas that go under the thematic strategies of our work in the region. Below, you will find our seven priorities, and in which fashion we co-operate with local partner organizations to ensure the quality of our support:

Strengthen formal democratization: Diakonia provides leadership training and support for political participation (including election monitoring) to women, youth and people with disabilities. In our aim to strengthen formal democratisation processes, we also support civic education and advocacy on constitutional reform, electoral reform and citizenship. Finally, we advocate for legislation to regulate inclusive participation in reform processes.

Increase respect for human rights of marginalised groups: This priority area involves building capacity in civil society organizations to provide them with tolls for raising cases of human rights violations. The capacity building focuses on violations of the rights of prisoners, women, Palestinian refugees, working children and people with disabilities. Finally, Diakonia support the expansion of community based rehabilitation modules within Palestinian camps in Lebanon.

Prevent and combat violence against women: Our work regarding violence against women includes raising awareness of men's roles in the processes to change gender power relations and supporting research within the field. We also advocate for reforms on family law, civil status law and penal codes.

Climate justice for the poor: This priority area involves supporting the establishment of a climate justice coalition for Lebanon and its participation in international conventions. With this regard, Diakonia promotes knowledge and builds skills of civil society organizations on climate change priorities. We also support civil society advocacy regarding climate change, with special emphasis on access to water and agriculture.

Strengthen socio-economic rights of vulnerable groups: Our work in strengthening the socio-economic rights of vulnerable groups involves undertaking advocacy for the right to employment of marginalised groups, and raising awareness on the topic of “better aid” to advance aid effectiveness. Diakonia support action related to corporate social responsibility (CSR), and we also promote the role of private actors in development.

Promote non-violence, tolerance and diversity: Our work in promoting non-violence includes supporting interventions leading to a culture of peace on a national level, including the Lebanese and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. We also mainstream conflict prevention into existing programmes and build capacity around the Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820, as well as on international humanitarian law (IHL).

Emergency relief: In our emergency relief, we provide humanitarian assistance in close collaboration with selected partners in response to emergencies, natural disasters and escalating conflicts, particularly focusing on refugees and the Israeli occupation. This involves building capacity on emergency preparedness in accordance with internationally accepted humanitarian principles and standards.

Read more about our work in Lebanon