Today when we all are sitting at our homes from the fear of coronavirus which has affected 3.12M people globally, there is a country which can’t even afford to do that – Lebanon.
Lebanon is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south.
Lebanon is facing hunger, poverty and coronavirus
Today Lebanon is shattered by poverty, hunger and coronavirus. Lebanon’s economy was already falling and protests relating to it were rampant since October. Their economy is almost on the verge of destruction with Lebanese government facing shortage of dollars. They cannot import anything, no basic commodities and the people are left to look for themselves. Now, the coronavirus spread as aggravated their unhealed grievances.
Lebanese has witnessed unrest among people since a long time now. People have come to streets, shouting anti-government slogans. In such a situation, the old government had to step down. However, the new government too could not address their problem.
The position is so bad that people have no money to eat, no earnings to get themselves treated in a hospital, all savings are being vanished leaving them with no sense of security. A 62-year old man in a protest said, “these are militias, not political parties”. He said he expects proper treatment at this age. He flashed an unhealed wound on his leg and said he needs treatment for this, he needs “social security”. “Who will provide me this?” he said in a shattered voice.
A video surfaced on the social networking site where,
a protester yelled at the police trying to control the mob “I’m hungry and standing infront of you, Strike me”
The police men said “I’m hungrier than you”
The mob yelled “Then what are you waiting for?”
If this isn’t a vivid and lucid description of the immeasurable agony and grief in the people, then what else can be?
The government can’t even import essential commodities
Their economy is almost devastated. Government is facing shortage of dollars which is used in everyday transaction. As a result, the government can’t even import essential commodities like wheat and oil. Banks have stopped giving loans to business and no longer provide them dollar for imports. So many of them are left with no choice than to deal in expensive black market dollars.
Inflation has gone up tremendously in Lebanon. The price of staple diet foods have increased to about 55%. The price of a basic and essential commodity like sugar has increased almost 67%. Price of wheat, tea, coffee, cigarettes are up by 50%.
The Lebanese pound has lost 3 times its value since October reaching 4,500 on black market this week. In October the price for one dollar was 1500 and now 4,500.
“From the beginning of 2020, the rate of inflation has gone up by 50 to 60 percent” said Professor Jad Chaban at the American University of Beirut.
Destruction due to coronavirus
In such a crisis, the spread of coronavirus is like a bolt from the blue. There was already so much uncertainty and perplexity in Lebanon and this virus has aggravated all earlier crisis. At present, there are only 717 positive cases. But the government, like other countries has imposed a lockdown. Lockdown also paused these protests as protestors were ordered to be in their homes giving a sigh of relief to the government.
The lockdown paused the protests but did not end it. Soon, people are back again on the streets and the protests are massive.
Banks are set on fire, public properties is being destroyed. People are shouting and asking their problems to be addressed.
The coronavirus has shake the already shaken economy of Lebanon and the results are disastrous. Unemployment has become very high and many people are losing their only hope of survival.