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Lebanon is facing a ‘dark fate alone’

What’s happening? What can help the Lebanese people?

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A drone picture shows the destruction after an explosion at the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon.

In this Aug. 5, 2020, file photo, a drone picture shows the destruction after an explosion at the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon.

Hussein Malla, Associated Press

“Lebanon is a few days away from the social explosion,” said Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Tuesday via CNN. “The Lebanese are facing this dark fate alone.”

  • The small Mediterranean county of 6 million people faces simultaneous financial, economic and political crises that have contributed to deteriorating living conditions, reported The Hill.
  • Last fall, Beirut — the country’s capital, largest city and key port — experienced a massive explosion that killed about 200 people and destroyed the port, per The New York Times. The explosion took a bad situation and made it worse.

Lebanon’s crisis has not come from war or conflict but from the government’s deficit spending, unsustainable monetary policies and subsequent political and social fallout, reported The New York Times.

What is Lebanon’s financial and economic crisis?

The World Bank considers the financial and economic situation in Lebanon to be one of the worst depressions of modern history, Al Jazeera reported.

  • The country’s currency has lost about 90% of its value since fall 2019, said The New York Times.
  • Lebanon’s GDP has dropped by 40% since fall 2019, per The New York Times.
  • Imported goods, once prevalent, have become increasingly scarce or even impossible to find, said Al Jazeera.

Unemployment has skyrocketed and food prices have tripled over recent months leaving 77% of households unable to afford food, CNN said.

What is Lebanon’s political and social crisis?

Lebanon currently has no government. The cabinet resigned last fall, following the Beirut port explosion. The administration has remained in their posts in caretaker roles but no longer have the authority to make large policy decisions, explained The New York Times.

  • Since the cabinet’s resignation, political parties have continued fighting over the makeup of the new government and have not come to an agreement, The New York Times reported.
  • The current caretaker government does not have the power to negotiate a relief deal with the International Monetary Fund or to implement a recovery plan, CNN said.

The deteriorating living conditions have prompted civil unrest across Lebanon. The government has deployed troops to respond to the protests but caretaker Prime Minister Diab has warned of further unrest, per Al Jazeera.

How far have living conditions deteriorated?

Lines for fuel have begun to stretch around the block, often taking hours to get gas while prices have increased by 50%, per Al Jazeera.

Medical importers said they have run out of hundreds of essential drugs and have warned of further shortages, said Al Jazeera. The shortages have become increasingly dangerous for those with medical conditions requiring regular medication.

  • Power outages can last up to 22 hours a day. Overall, there is a common sense that Lebabon is “coming undone,” per The New York Times.

Can anything stop the ‘social explosion’?

The Lebanese Parliament passed a law to spend $556 million on a ration card program but has provided no plan on how to implement the program and no explanation on how to pay for it, said The New York Times.

  • Caretaker Prime Minister Diab called for international aid on Tuesday, per The Hill.
  • The Qatari government has responded by pledging to provide food aid to Lebanese troops, per Al Jazeera.
  • Previously, international authorities — such as the World Bank and European Union — have maintained that Lebanon must establish a new government before receiving assistance, said CNN.

According to the World Bank’s June report, the crisis is expected to continue. “In the face of colossal challenges, continuous policy inaction and the absence of a fully functioning executive authority threaten already dire socioeconomic conditions and a fragile social peace with no clear turning point in the horizon,” the report said via The Hill.