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Country Reports

Lebanon Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Inter-state war risk between Israel and Lebanon is very high due to elevated risk of escalation from miscalculated retaliation by Hizbullah to Israeli military action. This is most likely to be triggered by Israeli airstrikes against weapons storage or manufacturing facilities in Lebanon. Escalation to inter-state war would cause extensive damage to infrastructure across Lebanon. The threat of terrorism is greatly reduced due to co-operation between the Lebanese Army and Hizbullah, and Syrian government control of border areas. Sunni Islamists are likely to retain the intent to attack security forces and Shia soft targets. Separately, Hizbullah remains the most capable terrorist actor but is unlikely to conduct domestic attacks. Iran-aligned groups led by Hizbullah, Amal, and FPM made major gains in the 2018 elections, facilitating normalised ties with Syria in 2019. The government probably will prioritise attracting foreign investment and improvements to infrastructure and basic services, but underlying structural issues, including corruption, are likely to remain unaddressed. Economic growth will remain weak in 2019 at just 2.2%. While the long-awaited formation of a new cabinet is helpful, infighting is likely to continue stalling reforms needed to unlock USD11 billion in funding from the CEDRE donor conference. Lebanon has the third-highest global debt-to-GDP ratio at 152%, a current-account deficit of 21% of GDP, and a fiscal deficit of 8% of GDP. Interest payments consume 9% of GDP. Slowing deposit growth and rising interest rates have impacted on the ability of commercial banks to finance government debt and have raised risks to the longstanding dollar peg. The central bank has sizeable gross foreign-exchange reserves of USD41 billion (73% of GDP), and gold worth USD12 billion (21% of GDP), but its net position is far weaker after accounting for banking-sector liabilities. Lebanon’s financing model is likely to break down unless major remedial action is taken.
Last update: February 16, 2019

Operational Outlook

Businesses, including foreign ones, are often dependent on the patronage of leading families and politicians. High government debt will likely stall the implementation of most Public-Private Partnerships projects. Lebanon is not a WTO member, mainly due to lack of political will, as the organisation bans monopolies and oligopolies, and these have direct ties to the government. Corruption is extensive, and nepotism usually determines the allocation of public contracts. Red tape is excessive. Lebanon's roads are inadequate, and water and sewerage systems are rudimentary. Electricity supply is unreliable and private generators are necessary.

Last update: December 28, 2018

Terrorism

Very high

State and Hizbullah action has greatly reduced the Islamic State's and other militant Sunni Islamists' capability to conduct terrorist attacks using suicide IEDs and VBIEDs against Hizbullah and army targets by the border with Syria, as well as civilian Shia targets. Terrorist groups continue to have the intent to target Hizbullah supporters' residential areas, commercial centres, and vulnerable communities such as Christian Mount Lebanon. Hizbullah is the most capable terrorist actor, but currently has no intent to conduct attacks. If severally challenged, Hizbullah would likely conduct covert assassinations of rivals or use IEDs against banks or infrastructure controlled by political opponents.

Last update: December 28, 2018

War Risks

We assess that neither Hizbullah nor Israel is deliberately seeking all-out war. War risk between Israel and Lebanon remains very high, however, due to the high likelihood of either side initiating action that unintentionally breaches the other’s tolerance threshold. War is most likely to be triggered by Israeli airstrikes against advanced weapons storage or manufacturing facilities in Lebanon. Any incident on the Israel-Lebanon border demarcation carries a high risk of escalation. The feasibility of a limited conflict would likely be dependent on both sides being assured through a trusted third party that their enemy is not preparing for war.

Last update: December 28, 2018

Social Stability

High

Despite a government being formed in February 2019, there remains an elevated risk of short-lived riots and shootings against media and political party offices, leading to road closures, death, and injury in greater Beirut and across Lebanon; perceived marginalised factions will continue to react against inflammatory statements or perceived encroachments. Separately, Lebanon experiences regularly ad-hoc protests and road closures over localised issues, such as power and water cuts. These rarely lead to property damage or casualties. Lebanon will likely normalise relations with Syria and increasingly deport refugees, leading to protests and violence in refugee camps against forced repatriation.

Last update: March 26, 2019

Health Risk

High

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No country requirement. 

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Very high

The risk of earthquakes is present in Lebanon, especially in Beirut, as the country is located on a fault line. The last major earthquake in Lebanon occurred in 1956 in Zrariyeh (Sidon district), killing more than 140 people. More recently, an earthquake struck near Jbeil in May 2014, leading to some material damage. Most buildings in the country do not conform to earthquake-resistant standards and several experts have stated that an earthquake with a magnitude of six or above in Beirut would destroy 25 percent of the city. 

In winter, heavy snowfall can lead to roadblocks and traffic disruption in mountainous regions.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Very high

Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) is located south of the capital Beirut, and links Beirut to neighboring countries as well as Europe's biggest cities. It is recommended to avoid landing at night as the ID verification process can be long and the wait for a visa upon landing can take up to six hours. Any traveler presenting a passport with an Israeli stamp or an Israeli airplane ticket will not be authorized to enter Lebanese territory.

The UK government has announced that passengers flying non-stop to the United Kingdom from Lebanon will be banned from transporting any electronic device larger than a standard-sized smartphone (16 cm x 9.3 cm x 1.5 cm / 6.3 in x 3.5 in x 0.6 in) in carry-on luggage. This includes laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, DVD players, and video games, which will have to be stowed in checked luggage for the duration of the flight.

Road accidents occur on a regular basis throughout Lebanon, Beirut included, due to aggressive driving behavior and a poorly maintained road network. The capital is often congested during peak hours and significant transportation disruptions are reported regularly. According to health authorities, road accidents have more than doubled over the past few years and are the primary cause of death among young people aged 15 to 30. Caution should be exercised when driving in Lebanon as traffic regulations are not always respected, even though Lebanese authorities are stricter than in the past.

Major roads as well as the road leading to the airport can be closed by protesters at any time without notice. In order to get to the airport or from the airport to the downtown area, it is advised to take the road that links Sidon to Beirut; it is not recommended to take the road passing by Beirut's southern suburbs.

For security reasons, Lebanese authorities have set up multiple checkpoints throughout the country. It is important to carry identification at all times and to cooperate with the police or to let the driver take care of the situation if you are a passenger.

Public transportation includes buses and public taxis (called "service"). These taxis are shared and usually have a taxi sign. Private taxi companies are generally safer than public transportation. It is advised not to take shared "service" taxis or rides from individuals offering private transportation from the airport; cases of violence against riders have been reported in the past. If you wish to take a taxi, it is preferable to rely on private companies recognizable by the company's taxi sign.

Railways are nonexistent in Lebanon and there are no domestic flights.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Lebanon enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot (30°C) and dry while winters are mild and rainy. Conditions in the mountainous regions are cooler, even cold, and snow is common in the winter.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +961
Police: 112

Electricity

Voltage: 110/220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019