BEIRUT: Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour said Thursday that at least 18,000 families are benefitting from the government’s welfare program which was launched last year to help aid the poor across the country.
It is the first national program that aims to target poverty in Lebanon and help needy families and individuals and has won the support of the government and President Michel Sleiman in recent months.
“The number of people who are currently benefiting from the program is 84,322,” Abu Faour said in a news conference to announce the results of the first year of his ministry’s campaign against poverty. The program has benefitted 36,587 people aged 18 and younger; 7,260 aged 60 and older; and 31,889 students who receive financial aid through the program, he said.
The program is run in collaboration with the World Bank and the Italian and Canadian governments primarily to help those individuals living on less than $2.40 a day through providing in-kind aid.
Abu Faour said that the program to help families living in extreme poverty is one of the few initiatives that is working to specifically target poverty in the country.
“This program might be the only one that is operated by the state and stands away from political sectarianism,” he added.
During the conference, Abu Faour also detailed the numbers of families benefiting from the program in different regions across Lebanon.
In Beirut, where some 1,507 families applied for financial aid, 100 families have started receiving help. In Mount Lebanon 2,990 families from 11,733 applicants are taking part, while in north Lebanon 7,208 families from 9,203 applicants are receiving aid.
Over half of the Bekaa Valley’s 10,000 applicants – 5,428 – are receiving aid. In the south 2,338 families are receiving aid out of 5,447 applicants.
Some applications did not comply with program requirements and were rejected by the ministry. “Some families who applied did not deserve to receive aid from this program, but we are reviewing their applications because there are families who really deserve to get help,” he added.