DRC adapting to operational circumstances in Lebanon

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has been working in Lebanon since 2004 and at the peak of the emergency between 2011 and 2013 DRC scaled up staff and programmes to meet the needs. As a consequence of reduced funding the Danish Refugee Council introduced a staff downsizing plan in 2014.


Between 2011 and 2013, DRC was one of the most active organisations supporting the Lebanese government in responding to the Syria crisis, with a human resource capacity that was scaled up in order to meet the needs of the response.

“DRC was a leading organisation in the beginning of the Syrian crisis between 2011 and 2013. From 2014 on, a number of organizations scaled up their activities in Lebanon and the workload was thus able to be shared across a wider range of humanitarian actors. DRC has been operating in Lebanon since 2004 and responding to crisis since the July War in 2006. We are used to adapting our response and size to a dynamic reality,” says DRC Country Director Michael Bates.   

When facing decreased funding, DRC initiated two parallel plans in 2014: downsizing staff and nationalising international positions to Lebanese positions. The ability to up-scale and downsize operations are pre-conditions for effectively dealing with the dynamics of a humanitarian crisis – it is a situation the organisation faces in all of its countries of operation. Staff hired by DRC are therefore notified that in case the organisation’s funding is decreased or a project is ended without the possibility of extension, their positions will come to an end. It is a transparent and consensual agreement mentioned in all staff contracts.

“In Lebanon we were able to nationalize a number of international positions to ensure maximum sustainability, and sought after employment alternatives for Lebanese staff by relocating them to other programmes and field offices when applicable,” says Mr. Bates.  

DRC is a humanitarian, project-based, and non-profit organisation. DRC spends the majority of its Lebanon program funding in the Lebanese economy through contracting national staff, local suppliers and service providers. DRC supports displacement affected communities throughout Lebanon, including direct support to vulnerable Lebanese.

DRC gives great importance to the wellbeing of our staff and follows the labour law of the respective countries where we operate. In Lebanon, DRC works closely with relevant ministries to ensure rules and regulations are followed and, in the case of potential redundancies, DRC requests prior approval three months in advance as stipulated by law. When and where possible, DRC seeks to provide alternate employment opportunities for Lebanese staff when funding has ended from a particular donor or project.