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Lebanon Country Security Report

Last Update: July 20, 2021

Travel Advisory

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Lebanon at Level 3, indicating travelers should reconsider travel to Lebanon due to COVID-19, crime, terrorism, armed conflict, civil unrest, kidnapping, and Embassy Beirut’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.

The Institute for Economics & Peace Global Peace Index 2021 ranks Lebanon 147 out of 163 worldwide, rating the country as being at a Low state of peace.

Crime Environment

​The U.S. Department of State has assessed Beirut as being a MEDIUM-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. The Department has included a Crime “C” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Lebanon, indicating that there may be widespread violent crime and/or organized crime present in the country, and/or that local law enforcement may have limited ability to respond to serious crimes.

The crime emergency line in Lebanon is 112. Review the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.

Crime: General Threat

Violent crime and sexual assault incidents against expatriates are rare but do happen. Criminal groups have abducted U.S. citizens for ransom and other motives, on at least one occasion using the lure of a business meeting. The Embassy receives regular reports of domestic abuse from dual U.S.-Lebanese citizens. Petty theft like pickpocketing and purse snatching is common in metropolitan Beirut, where criminals often target victims, such as the elderly or unaccompanied females, based on perceived vulnerability. Vehicle theft and carjacking is a common occurrence, with a combined nationwide average of 110 per month in 2020; authorities recover approximately one-third of stolen vehicles. Burglaries, while traditionally not as common as other crimes, are on the rise and increased 40% from 2019 to 2020. Burglaries are likely to continue to increase as economic conditions worsen. Police are responsive, but are often unable to affect a positive outcome, particularly in rural areas.

According to Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF – national police) crime statistics, Lebanon experienced an increase in crime rates in some categories between 2019 and 2020. Most notably, homicides increased by 50%.

Crime: Areas of Concern

Several criminally oriented families, clans, and gangs continue to operate in Lebanon. Police enforcement action against these families is difficult due to the geographically isolated areas in which many of the syndicates operate, and the limited police presence and resources in areas outside of Beirut and its surrounding governorates. Baalbek and Hermel are two locations that suffer from this issue. The families participate in car thefts, narcotics trafficking, and kidnappings, and are likely responsible for a number of homicides. Criminal gangs may be responsible for many of Lebanon’s unsolved crimes.

Avoid travel to refugee settlements. Violence within Palestinian and Syrian refugee settlements is common, with incidents ranging from petty crime to shootings and explosions. Palestinian groups hostile both to the Lebanese government and the U.S. operate autonomously in formal and informal refugee settlements throughout the country.

Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should Leave Behind, Hotels: The Inns and Outs, Considerations for Hotel Security, and Taking Credit.

Kidnapping Threat

The U.S. Department of State has included a Kidnapping “K” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Lebanon, indicating that criminal or terrorist individuals or groups have threatened to and/or have seized or detained and threatened to kill, injure, or continue to detain individuals in order to compel a third party (including a governmental organization) to do or abstain from doing something as a condition of release. Review OSAC’s reports, Kidnapping: The Basics and Active Shooter and Kidnapping Response Tips.

Kidnapping, whether for ransom, political motives, or family disputes, is a problem i nLebanon. Suspects in kidnappings sometimes have ties to terrorist or criminal organizations. The U.S. government has limited ability to help U.S. citizens kidnapped or taken hostage. U.S. law makes it illegal to provide material support to terrorist organizations. Kidnappings linked to carjacking and taxi robberies have been reported.

In addition, there are reports of armed groups from Syria kidnapping or attacking Lebanese citizens living in border areas.

Drug Crime

Recent Lebanon-linked seizures of Captagon, an amphetamine-based narcotic, have refocused domestic attention on Lebanon's role in the drug trade. Traffickers have used Lebanon to move Captagon for two decades, and the country has emerged as a robust producer in its own right. As economic conditions worsen, the industry may attract new participants, as drug production offers an inexpensive means to collect fresh dollar revenues. In recent months, the Lebanese Armed forces and International Security Forces (ISF) have stepped up counter-narcotics and counter-smuggling activities to crack down on criminal groups, which draw increasingly strong public ire for profiting off of Lebanon's economic demise. However, due to a freeze on recruitment and devaluation of public-sector budgets, ISF drug enforcement ranks are insufficiently staffed to dismantle major networks.

Consult with the CIA World Factbook’s section on Illicit Drugs for country-specific information.

Terrorism Environment

​The U.S. Department of State has assessed Beirut as being a CRITICAL-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

The U.S. Department of State has included a Terrorism “T” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Lebanon, indicating that terrorist attacks have occurred and/or specific threats against civilians, groups, or other targets may exist. Review the latest State Department Country Report on Terrorism for Lebanon.

The Institute for Economics & Peace Global Terrorism Index 2020 ranks Lebanon 51 out of 163 worldwide, rating the country as having a Low impact from terrorism.

Terrorism: General Threat

There is potential for death or injury by terrorist bombings and attacks in Lebanon. Violent extremist groups operate in Lebanon, including U.S. government-designated terrorist organizations Hizb’allah, ISIS, Hamas, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB). ISIS has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in Lebanon. U.S. citizens have been the targets of terrorist attacks. The threat of anti-Western terrorist activity persists, as does the risk of death or injury as a non-targeted bystander.

Those living and working in Lebanon should carefully consider the risks of remaining in the country. Remain aware of the potential for terrorist attack, and take precautions (e.g. varying routes/times, avoiding demonstrations) to remain safe. Internal security policies limit, and may prevent, access by U.S. Embassy officials to certain areas of the country. The Lebanese government cannot guarantee protection against sudden outbreaks of violence. Armed clashes have occurred along the Lebanese borders and in Beirut.

Clashes between Lebanese authorities and criminal elements continue in areas of the Bekaa Valley and border regions. In the central part of the Bekaa, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks have occurred over the past three years. Militant groups may have conducted the attacks. Hizb’allah maintains a strong presence in the Bekaa Valley, in addition to areas in southern Lebanon and south Beirut.

Political Violence and Civil Unrest Environment

​The U.S. Department of State has assessed Beirut as being a MEDIUM-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Elections/Political Stability

Lebanon’s economic crisis and political leaders’ months-long inability to form a government have increased instability and weakened the Lebanese government’s capacity to manage protests or spontaneous outbreaks of violence. Protesters, sometimes backed by political parties, routinely block major thoroughfares throughout the country by burning tires, including in Beirut. Over the last year, protests have frequently turned violent and have at times lasted for several days. Protesters are most likely to target banks, including ATMs, government offices, buildings associated with political parties, and politicians’ homes. More protests are likely as economic conditions deteriorate. 

Lebanon’s constitution mandates that parliamentary and municipal elections be held in 2022, though elections have historically occurred late. Some political parties have connections to militias that could instigate violence, though they have generally not done this during previous campaigns. There were several incidents of small-scale clashes between supporters of rival candidates before parliamentary elections in 2018. 

Protest & Demonstration Activity

There is widespread and near daily protest activity throughout Lebanon as the economy continues to contract with rising inflation rates, devaluation of the Lebanese lira, and rising rates of poverty. Protest activity results from a broad range of topics to include but not limited to the following: public discontent with the slow removal of subsidies on medicine, food, and fuel; the inability of Lebanese citizens to withdraw their savings from local banks; a lack of reliable power; the pace at which authorities are bringing to justice those responsible for the Port of Beirut blast; the worsening exchange rate; and government inability to affect change for the better of society.

Protest activity will likely continue until the political and economic situations stabilize. 

For more information, review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.

Law Enforcement Concerns: Security Agencies

For local first responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency Assistance page. Also see the State Department webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

The Internal Security Forces, under the Interior Ministry, are responsible for law enforcement. The Directorate of General Security, also under the Interior Ministry, is responsible for border control but also exercises some domestic security responsibilities. The Lebanese Armed Forces, under the Defense Ministry, are responsible for external security but have the authority to arrest and detain suspects on national security grounds. The Lebanese Armed Forces also arrest alleged drug traffickers, manage protests, enforce building codes related to refugee shelters, and intervene to prevent violence between rival political factions. The General Directorate of State Security, reporting to the prime minister through the Higher Defense Council, is responsible for investigating espionage and other national security matters. The Parliamentary Police Force reports to the speaker of parliament, and protects parliament premises as well as the speaker’s residence in Ain al-Tineh. Both the ISF and the Lebanese Armed Forces provide units to the Parliamentary Police Force. Civilian authorities maintain control over the armed forces and other security forces, although Palestinian security and militia forces, Hizb’allah, and other extremist elements operate outside the direction or control of government officials. Members of security forces have reportedly committed abuses.

Police Response

The U.S. government maintains excellent relations with Lebanese law enforcement and security elements. Security services address urgent security concerns immediately. Overall, police are responsive, though they may have difficulty responding to reports of crime depending on the time of day and location.

Law Enforcement Concerns: Emergency Contact/Information

The emergency line Lebanon is 112.

Transportation Security

Road Safety

Visitors must have an international driver’s license to drive legally. Driving can be difficult, as local drivers often maneuver aggressively and pay little regard to traffic lights/signs. High rates of speed, erratic traffic patterns, poorly marked merges/addresses, inconsistent police enforcement in the greater Beirut area, and little/no enforcement in other parts of the country make driving conditions hazardous.

There is a lack of electronic traffic control signals, resulting in erratic traffic patterns and vehicle accidents. Police rarely respond to vehicle accidents. Insurance companies employ private accident investigators who respond to accidents and may have bias toward the insured party. Parties involved in traffic accidents usually settle matters among themselves, unless significant injury or material damage is involved. Emergency services are adequate in the event of a serious accident. In case of a road accident, emergency numbers are 140 for the Red Cross and 125 for the emergency civil police.

The Interior Ministry has been attempting to implement a new traffic law enacted in 2015, to include the prohibition of cell phone use (calling or texting) while driving. This has resulted in an uptick of traffic stops in the Beirut and Mount Lebanon regions. However, the frequency of such traffic enforcement is inconsistent and is of questionable efficacy, as approximately 500 people die on Lebanon’s roads each year.

For detailed, country-specific road and vehicle safety information, read the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety.

For more information, review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.

Public Transportation Safety

U.S. citizens assigned to the U.S. Embassy may not use public transportation in Lebanon.

There is limited public mass transit. There are some government-run buses in Beirut. Outside of Beirut, privately owned minivan, minibus, or shuttle companies offer some scheduled services. Use extreme caution when aboard public transport.

Call for taxi service from a reputable taxi company or a car-for-hire service rather than flagging down passing taxis or service cars. Uber and Careem are present and in wide use. Because of the risks inherent in using unknown transportation, be wary of so-called service cars, and carry the number of a reputable taxi company in case of emergencies. Ensure the car service you choose vets its drivers. Consider taking a photograph of the taxi plates or registration number as you set off, forwarding it and your itinerary to a contact.

For more information, review OSAC’s Report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights; and consider the European Union Air Safety List.

Aviation Concerns

Local media reports expressed concern over the quality of security at Beirut Rafiq Hariri International Airport (BEY). Embassy personnel use the airport for official and personal travel. In 2017, BEY began the implementation of the Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record program. In 2019, the airport added additional passport control counters and upgraded its baggage handling and screening system to reduce congestion and wait times.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Lebanon’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Commercial aircraft are at risk when flying over conflict regions. The U.S. Department of State also warns U.S. citizens of the risk of traveling on flights that fly over Syria, which include some flights to Beirut. On April 14, 2018, the FAA issued an advisory Notice to Airmen (KICZ A00009/18) for U.S. civil aviation regarding operations in the airspace within 200nm from the Damascus FIR due to military activity in or around Syria including GPS interference, communications jamming, and errant long-range surface-to-air missiles. The FAA maintains a flight prohibition for the Damascus Flight Information Region, SFAR 114 due to the continued risk to civil aviation posed from the ongoing conflict and extremist threat.

Maritime Security

Mariners planning travel to Lebanon should check for maritime advisories and alerts on the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) website. Vessels operating in the Eastern Mediterranean have reported instances of GPS interference, including in the vicinity of Beirut. Mariners should be alert to the potential presence of human smuggling operations conducted at sea, principally between northern Lebanon and Cyprus. The Lebanese Navy’s ability to conduct search and rescue operations and welfare interdictions is limited.

Consult with the Stable Seas Maritime Security Index for detailed information and ratings regarding rule of law, law enforcement, piracy, and other maritime security indicators.

Personal Identity & Human Rights Concerns

Dual citizens who possess Lebanese nationality may also be subject to laws that impose special obligations on them as Lebanese citizens. Lebanese citizens who associate with Israeli citizens or officials, or who have traveled through Israel, are subject to arrest, detention, and prosecution. Authorities may detain, arrest, or deny entry to anyone arriving at a point of entry with an Israeli stamp in their passport. Penalties are often especially harsh if the traveler is of Arab origin or a dual national. Authorities have also detained travelers who have a family name considered of Israeli or Jewish origin.

Travelers with names reflecting Middle Eastern heritage may face additional scrutiny at Lebanese ports of entry and may be required to show documentary evidence of their parentage; specifically, official proof of their father’s name, such as a copy of a birth certificate.

Safety Concerns for Women Travelers

U.S. citizens living in or traveling in Lebanon are sometimes denied permission to depart the country because a criminal, civil, or family court has imposed a travel hold. For example, a head of household can place a travel hold against a spouse and children even before the family arrives in Lebanon. Easily initiated, travel holds remain in place for prolonged periods. While the U.S. Embassy can provide U.S. citizens options for legal representation, it cannot have travel holds removed, even in times of crisis.

Police and judicial officials worked to improve their management of domestic violence cases, but they noted that social and religious pressures–especially in more conservative communities–led to underreporting of cases. Some victims, often under pressure from relatives, sought arbitration through religious courts or between families rather than through the justice system. There were reports and cases of foreign domestic workers, usually women, suffering from mistreatment, abuse, and in some instances rape or conditions akin to slavery.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ISF encouraged reporting of domestic violence including raising awareness on social media of their hotline for abuse survivors. The ISF reported that the number of calls to the hotline doubled between March 2019 and March 2020. The NGO ABAAD was quoted in media saying that the government needed to increase services and availability of shelters to keep up with demand.

 The law prohibits sexual harassment, but authorities do not enforce the law effectively, and it remains a widespread problem that was among the October 2019 protesters’ most vocal complaints. The Director General of the ISF announced that during the first months of government-mandated COVID-19 shutdown, complaints of sexual harassment and sexual extortion doubled compared with the same time period before the pandemic.

Consider composite scores given to Lebanon by the UN Development Program (UNDP) in its Gender Development Index, measuring the difference between average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development, and Gender Inequality Index, measuring inequality in achievement in reproductive health, empowerment, and the labor market. For more information on gender statistics in Lebanon, see the World Bank's Gender Data Portal.

Review the State Department’s webpage for female travelers.

Safety Concerns for LGBTI+ Travelers

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Lebanon, punishable by up to one year in prison. LGBTI+ persons can face significant social stigma. Although prosecutions are rare, Lebanon has charged, tried, and sentenced LGBTI+ adults for engaging in consensual same-sex relations. Authorities have typically arrested LGBTI+ individuals for other minor offenses, and then subsequently charged them with violation of the law when discovering evidence of their LGBTI+ identity, often through searches of cell phones or other personal material. While prosecution is uncommon, short-term detentions can expose individuals to discrimination and abuse.

The law prohibits sexual relations “contradicting the laws of nature” and effectively criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults. The law was occasionally enforced in civilian and military courts, and carries a penalty of up to one year in prison. In 2019, a military prosecutor in Beirut acquitted four military personnel accused of “sodomy.” The judge cleared the group of charges of committing sexual acts “contrary to nature” and declined to issue warrants for their arrest, commenting that the law does not specify what kind of relationship can be considered “contrary to nature.” The ruling was the first of its kind by a military prosecutor. In February 2020, the Government Commissioner to the Military Court issued a decision not to prosecute four LAF soldiers who were separately accused of having same-sex sexual relations. Some government and judicial officials, along with NGOs and legal experts, questioned whether the law actually criminalizes same-sex sexual conduct.

No provisions of law provide antidiscrimination protections to LGBTI+ persons based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics. NGOs continued to report employment discrimination faced by transgender women due to the inconsistency between official documentation and gender self-presentation.

NGOs stated that official and societal discrimination against LGBTI+ persons persisted. Observers received reports from LGBTI+ refugees of physical abuse by local gangs, which the victims did not report to the ISF. Observers referred victims to UNHCR-sponsored protective services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, NGOs noted that the government-enforced lockdown posed increased risks to the LGBTI+ community, which depended on community centers, tight social networks, and NGOs for emotional and financial support.

Review OSAC’s report, Supporting LGBT+ Employee Security Abroad, and the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+ travelers.

Safety Concerns for Travelers with Disabilities

While in Lebanon, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from the United States. Lebanon has passed laws that make it illegal to discriminate against those with disabilities, but authorities do not enforce the laws uniformly. These laws include sections on building accessibility, but building codes have yet to receive updates accordingly. Most public transportation, including taxis, is not accessible. Roads are often in disrepair, and there are few sidewalks or road crossings. Buildings and tourist sites are also often difficult to access for those with physical disabilities because of uneven ground and the lack of elevators and ramps. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.

By law, persons with disabilities have the right to employment, education, health services, accessibility, and the right to vote; however, there was no evidence the government effectively enforced the law. Although prohibited by law, discrimination against persons with disabilities continues.

The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but the government has failed to amend building codes to implement these provisions. The law does not mandate access to information or accommodations for communication for persons with disabilities.

Safety Concerns for Travelers Based on Race, Religion, & Ethnicity

Lebanon experiences sectarian divisions and pressures from external and internal forces that can affect the government’s ability to function. Factionalism and sectarianism can result in political paralysis. Sectarian issues have resulted in the outbreak of violence, evidenced by the Lebanese civil war. Lebanon’s internal security situation remains unpredictable, with periods of relative calm interrupted by civil protests, heightened sectarian tensions, sporadic terror attacks such as the 2019 and 2020 attacks against security forces in northern Lebanon, and security force counter-terror operations such as the 2017 anti-ISIS campaign.

There are fewer than 100 Jews reportedly living in the country. The Jewish Community Council reported that a construction site adjacent to the Jewish cemetery in Beirut regularly dumped trash and rubble into the cemetery in the beginning of the year, but the dumping stopped during the year. A report from the Anti-Defamation League found anti-Semitic educational material and incitement to anti-Semitism at educational institutions run by the education branch of Hizb’allah.

Review the latest U.S Department of State Report on International Religious Freedom for country-specific information.

Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice, and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based travelers.

Anti-U.S./Anti-Western Sentiment

The threat of terrorist activity against U.S. citizens continues. Current information suggests that ISIS, its affiliates, and other violent extremist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against areas that Westerners frequent. Extremists may elect to employ various methods to attack, including suicide bombings, conventional bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings.

In November 2019, approximately 150 people held an anti-U.S. demonstration near the U.S. Embassy. The Government of Lebanon provided excellent support and protection to the U.S. Embassy while overseeing the security for the protest that mainly consisted of leftist organizations.

In June 2020, there was an anti-racism rally in Beirut in protest to the killing of George Floyd. In July 2020, roughly 170 individuals protested against U.S. Central Command General McKenzie's visit at the site of the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing. Also that month, approximately 150 protestors waving the flags of Hizb’allah and the Syrian Nationalist and communist parties protested near the U.S. Embassy.

Concerns involving the Rule of Law, Arbitrary Detention, Official Harassment, Corruption &/or Transparency

Although the constitution provides for an independent judiciary, authorities subject the judiciary to political pressure, particularly through negotiations among political factions regarding the appointment of key prosecutors and investigating magistrates. Defendants involved in routine civil and criminal proceedings sometimes solicit the assistance of prominent individuals to influence the outcomes of their cases.

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and provides for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of arrest or detention in court; the government generally observes these requirements. The law requires judicial warrants before arrests except in cases of active pursuit. Nonetheless, NGOs and civil society groups allege some incidents of the government arbitrarily arresting and detaining individuals -- particularly protesters, refugees, and migrant workers. Typically, these detentions were for short periods and related to administrative questions associated with the residency or work status of these populations, often lasting between several hours and one or more days.

The country suffers from endemic corruption. Although the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, the government has not implemented the law effectively, and officials reportedly engage in corrupt practices with impunity on a wide scale. Government and security officials, customs agents, and members of the judiciary are subject to laws against bribery and extortion, but the lack of strong enforcement limits the law’s effectiveness.

Parliament has approved a law lifting the secrecy of bank accounts of sitting and former ministers, parliamentarians, and civil servants. The law gives power to the Special Investigation Commission of the Central Bank and the National Anticorruption Commission to investigate such cases. The government also agreed to hire accounting firms to conduct forensic and financial audits of the Central Bank’s accounts. However, the auditor withdrew in November over a political impasse related to obtaining financial records.

In the wake of the massive explosion at the Port of Beirut in August 2020, which many Lebanese blamed on systemic government corruption and negligence, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in downtown Beirut to demand the resignation of the second government in less than a year, ousting of the political elite, and accountability for the port disaster. The judge leading the inquiry into the explosion paused the investigation under political pressure after he pursued indictments of several members of the political elite.

The most common types of corruption generally include political patronage; judicial failures, especially in investigations of official wrongdoing; and bribery at multiple levels within the national and municipal governments. A number of cases have been referred to the judiciary, including a case involving off-speculation fuel oil purchased by the national electricity utility; more than 20 individuals have been indicted in that case, including the Central Bank’s director of monetary operations, the head of the Money Changers Syndicate, but all have been released.

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Lebanon 149 out of 180 worldwide, where 1 means most transparent.

Communication Issues

Lebanon’s constitution provides for freedom of expression for the press, and stipulates that restrictions may be imposed only under exceptional circumstances. A law regulating print media holds journalists responsible for erroneous or false news; threats or blackmail; insult, defamation, and contempt; causing prejudice to the president’s dignity; insulting the president or the president of a foreign country; instigation to commit a crime through a publication; and sectarian provocation. The law governing audiovisual media bans live broadcasts of unauthorized political gatherings and certain religious events, as well as any broadcast of “any matter of commentary seeking to affect directly or indirectly the well-being of the nation’s economy and finances, material that is propagandistic and promotional, or promotes a relationship with Israel.” The law also prohibits broadcasting programs that harm the state or its relations with foreign countries or that seek to harm public morals, ignite sectarian strife, or insult religious beliefs. Authorities prosecute online, print, and television journalists for violations of the country’s publications law. Journalists also report facing intimidation and harassment.

Individuals are generally free to criticize the government and discuss matters of public interest; however, several legal restrictions limit this right. The law prohibits discussing the dignity of the president or insulting him or the president of a foreign country. The military code of justice prohibits insulting the security forces, and the Military Court has prosecuted civilians under this statute. Review OSAC’s report, Lèse Majesté: Watching what you say (and type) abroad.

The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks Lebanon 107 out of 180 worldwide, where 1 means most freedom. The Freedom House Freedom on the Net report rates the country’s internet freedom as partly free; its Freedom in the World report rates the country’s freedom of speech as partly free.

Health Concerns

Emergency Health Services      

Medical care in Beirut and the surrounding area is good. Many hospitals have modern equipment and well-trained physicians. However, the economic crisis is causing a shortage of medications and repairs to medical equipment. Long-term visitors should become familiar with hospitals near their homes and places of employment. Most hospitals have stopped performing outpatient Lab testing due to shortage in test kits and supplies. The economic crisis is also causing a significant amount physicians, medical specialists and nurses to leave the country.

For medical assistance, refer to the Embassy’s Medical Assistance page.

Emergency numbers are 140 for the Red Cross and 125 for the emergency civil police.

Find contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy website. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on health insurance overseas.

The U.S. Department of State has included a Health “H” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Lebanon, indicating that Health risks, including current disease outbreaks or a crisis that temporarily disrupts a country’s medical infrastructure, are present. Review the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) country-specific Travel Health Notices for current health issues that impact traveler health, like disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, and natural disasters.

See OSAC’s Guide to U.S. Government-Assisted Evacuations; review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad; and visit the State Department’s webpage on Your Health Abroad for more information.

Vaccinations

Review the CDC Travelers’ Health site for country-specific vaccine recommendations.

Issues Traveling with Medications

U.S. citizens with special medical or other needs should be aware of the risks of remaining given their condition, and should prepare to seek treatment in Lebanon if they cannot arrange for travel out of the country. The supply of medications is low due to the economic crisis and the necessity for pharmacies to pay for medications in dollars vice Lebanese lira. 

Review OSAC’s report, Traveling with Medication.

Water Quality

Water is not considered wholly potable in Lebanon. Water quality is deteriorating as a result of surface and underground water pollution caused by decades of urbanization, lack of proper waste management systems, and irregular dumping of waste of all kinds in rivers, sea outfalls and valleys.

Review OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?

Environmental Hazards

According to a study conducted by the American University of Beirut, Beirut experiences high levels of air pollution which exceeds WHO standards for maximum acceptable levels of particulate matter. The level of pollution deteriorates the health of Beirut's inhabitants, which necessitates well planned remedial initiatives.

Cybersecurity Concerns

Credit card skimming, email phishing, cyber-attacks on local banks, and other cyber and financial scams occur, although no Embassy personnel have reported issues with credit/bank card compromise in the last year.

Email scams are frequent and have affected local and foreign businesses. Scammers have attempted to identify themselves as legitimate U.S. government entities to extort money from unwitting victims. Use caution when reading an email from an unknown individual or organization.

Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling Abroad with Mobile Devices, and Guide for Overseas Satellite Phone Usage.

Counterintelligence Issues

There are potentially many organizations/groups that may seek information from you such as representatives of foreign nations, political parties, terrorists, criminals, corporations, and journalists. The information they may seek could be personal information about you, employees of your organization, your duties, gossip, your political views, access to computer networks and information about security features and procedures. It is a best practice not to share the above information to individuals you do not know.

Other Security Concerns

Landmines

Over 35 million square meters of Lebanon remains contaminated by landmines, unexploded ordnance (UXO), and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) from several conflicts, including the 1975-1990 Civil War and the Israel-Hizb’allah conflict of 2006. The brief presence of ISIS and other violent extremist groups along Lebanon’s border with Syria as well as LAF operations to dislodge these groups in 2017 also resulted in ERW contamination. Since 1975, ERW in Lebanon has killed over 900 people and injured thousands more.

Import/Export Restrictions

Travelers must clear all firearms and ammunition with the Government of Lebanon upon importation. There are restrictions on the importation of medical and telecommunications equipment, which must be approved by the Ministries of Health and Telecommunications respectively.

A country-specific listing of items goods prohibited from being exported to the country or that are otherwise restricted is available from the U.S. International Trade Agency website.

Photography

Taking photos near military and law enforcement locations, to include checkpoints, is prohibited.

When in doubt when taking the legality of taking a photo(s), ask for permission of the venue's security team. 

Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.

ID Requirements

U.S. citizens who come to work in Lebanon should ensure that their Lebanese employer arranges for proper documentation for them to remain in the country. This includes professional athletes, who should make certain that their sponsoring club/team arranges for them to receive the correct visas valid for the duration of their stay. Travelers coming to Lebanon as professional athletes should ensure that a written contract is in place before traveling, as many athletes have experienced problems with scams and false offers of employment.

Critical Infrastructure Concerns

Lebanon has avoided key electricity sector reforms that is resulting in an inability to generate electricity consistently for the needs of the country. Power cuts are growing as Lebanese now rely on private diesel-powered generators for 18-20 hours of electricity per day.

OSAC Country Chapters

The Beirut Country Chapter meets quarterly.

Contact OSAC’s Middle East & North Africa team for any questions.

Embassy Contact Information

The U.S. Embassy in Lebanonis located in Awkar, off the Dbayeh highway, facing the Awkar Municipal Building.

P.O. Box 70-840 Antelias

Embassy Operator: +961-4-543600

State Department Emergency Line: +1-202-501-4444

Hours of Operation: 0730 - 1600 Monday to Friday

Trustworthy News Sources

The following news sources are considered trustworthy. Note some of the content is only accessible behind a paywall.

Other Helpful Info

 

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