Dear Secretary Blinken and Administrator Power:
We write with concern about the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation in
Lebanon. We appreciate the efforts that the Biden administration has made to address the
immediate humanitarian needs of the Lebanese people, including a recent commitment of $98
million of additional U.S. humanitarian assistance, as well as support for the Lebanese Armed
Forces and the ongoing coordinated diplomatic effort with our allies to address these challenges.
However, reporting indicates that, without additional support, key institutions in Lebanon,
including higher education institutions and the health system, face potential collapse.
Additionally, we ask that you continue to support accountability for institutions and individuals
responsible for the economic and political mismanagement that has led to the current crisis, as
well as ongoing efforts to investigate the cause of the Beirut port explosion last August.
In the past two years, Lebanon has experienced a series of overlapping crises. In addition
to the global pandemic and being host to the largest number of refugees per capita, last year
Lebanon experienced a massive explosion at the port of Beirut which killed hundreds, injured
thousands and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless due to the blast's destruction of
their homes. Lebanon has also seen an economic crisis which has resulted in over 90%
devaluation in its currency, widespread unemployment and poverty. The Lebanese people are
now experiencing shortages of food, fuel, and medicine. The economic crisis in Lebanon has
been ranked by the World Bank as one of the top three "most severe crises episodes globally
since the mid-nineteenth century."
This crisis has had compounding negative impacts on Lebanon's health system, with
shortages of medicine, electricity, and key personnel. According to recent reporting, between 40
and 50 percent of Lebanon's doctors have left the country. These developments have threatened
access to both lifesaving medical procedures and routine primary care. As you look to support
the Lebanese people, we ask that you prioritize efforts to restore these critical services and
prevent further brain drain of critical medical providers.
Additionally, we ask that you take action to address the funding shortfall for Lebanon's
education system, including Lebanese American University and the American University in
Beirut. In the FY21 appropriations legislation, Congress passed a new $50 million fund that
would help fund the future leaders of countries in economic crisis, and the legislation specifically
named Lebanon in the report. These funds are designated for trusted American universities,
which are essential for not only providing current employment and economic lifelines to tens of
thousands of people in Lebanon but also for rebuilding the countries' civil society, building up
institutional capacity within the country, and promoting American public diplomacy in a region
increasingly being influenced by hostile domestic and foreign corruption So far, these funds have
not been distributed by USAID. We ask that you provide a timeline for the delivery of these
funds, as well as how much of this funding will go to universities in Lebanon. Additionally, we
request a breakdown or additional details on any State Department funding included in the
August 4, 2021 announcement.
Finally, we request that you continue to prioritize ongoing efforts to investigate the cause
of the Beirut port explosion last August, as well as support accountability for those Lebanese
public officials implicated in wrongdoing that has contributed to the current economic crisis. In
spite of international calls for an independent investigation following the Beirut port blast on
August 4, 2021, current efforts have proceeded slowly. Additionally, during the ongoing political
and economic crisis, evidence has come to light regarding the misuse of public funds, as well as
other breaches of public trust by political figures. A full accounting of the facts in these matters
and real accountability is key to restoring trust in Lebanon's political system and addressing the
multitude of crises the country currently faces.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request, and for your continued
engagement on this issue.