Lebanon: Crushed by the crisis, the citizens are leaving the country



The catastrophic explosion in the port of Beirut in August was the final blow to many Lebanese who had already suffered from a series of economic crises. The middle class is mired in poverty and the poor in despair, with many citizens fleeing the country and those who remain struggling for survival. Lebanese have on many occasions turned to migration to deal with crises, sending billions to the in the form of remittances and thus saving their national economy. Now, another big exit is in progress. Immigrant flows As explained by Peter Ingea, owner of a transport company, in the Wall Street Journal, since the August 4 explosion, his company has been called upon to undertake at least one or two overseas migrations a day. During the same period in 2019, the frequency was limited to one or two per week. “We have not stopped,” he said. Almost all of his clients have dual citizenship or deposits abroad. For others, escape is more difficult – especially since the pandemic has made it difficult to travel abroad. The Lebanese border security service recently unveiled a network operating at Beirut airport, smuggling people into Spain. Dangerous journey to Cyprus The most desperate get on boats heading to Cyprus. This is a very dangerous sea voyage, which until this year was the last choice of refugees fleeing the war in neighboring Syria. According to the UN, 30 migrant boats departed from Lebanon for Cyprus between July and October. Although the majority of the passengers were of Syrian descent, the second largest group consisted of Lebanese. Many residents feel trapped in Lebanon. Rami Zahr, a 32-year-old DJ who has been unemployed since the coronavirus and the financial crisis “killed” Beirut’s nightlife, would love to be able to leave. But the banking crisis does not allow him to raise enough money to leave the country. “We are stuck here because our money is trapped,” he told the WSJ. “Few believe the situation in Lebanon will improve soon. Tartar economy The economy is projected to shrink by 25% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Imports have been cut in half because the Lebanese purchasing power has been minimized by the collapse of the local currency, which has lost more than 80% of its value against the dollar over the year. The IMF estimates that GDP will shrink from $ 14,500 in 2019 to $ 10,900 in 2020. “This is not just an economic crisis,” said former Labor Minister Sarbel Nahas, who now leads a political group calling for a complete overhaul of politics. systemic. “The whole institutional framework of society and the economy has collapsed.” Armies hungry at food banks Office clerks who have lost their jobs or income now go to food banks to put food on their table. “There is no middle class anymore,” Soha Zeiter, head of the Lebanese food bank, told WSJ. Meat has become a rare luxury. Bar owners say their customers have stopped ordering anything other than beer and the local drink “Arak”. With its stocks running low, Lebanon’s central bank has warned it will no longer be able to subsidize its costs. imported fuels, medicines, but also some food, which led to both emptying of shelves and notoriety. Rise of crime The rich build forts around their homes to protect themselves from rising crime. With confidence in the banks waning, citizens are hiding their money at home. Sales of alarm systems, security cameras and safes have skyrocketed, according to local security companies. “The absence of the state does not allow anyone to feel safe,” Rostam Yamok, CEO of a security company, told the WSJ. A year after he was forced to resign by protesters flooding the streets of Lebanon, protesting against the political establishment, which they say is responsible for the country’s woes. “All they care about is self-preservation,” Hariri has promised. achieve the release of foreign aid that will contribute to economic recovery. A few months earlier, the Lebanese government had failed to reach an agreement with the IMF on the terms of a multibillion-dollar rescue program. The international community and Gulf states, Lebanon’s traditional sponsors, no longer seem willing to invest in country, since they have not seen their previous relevant moves pay off. The country’s political elite has so far not conducted an investigation into its spending, a move that is generally seen as the first step towards substantive reform. The political elite’s priority is not healing the wounds of the country’s economy, but self-preservation. notes Allen Biffany, former director general of commerce. Biffany resigned this year as a sign of protest against the political management of the financial crisis. “The middle class has collapsed.” , an intensivist in Lebanon, can no longer go out twice a week to eat with his family, nor can he hire a domestic helper, as he used to. His wife – who is also a doctor – was forced to reduce her working hours to part-time in order to take care of their two children, further reducing the family income. “Our way of life has changed,” said Haddad. “We have to think hard before we spend even a dollar.” Many of his colleagues have already emigrated to France. But he does not want to uproot his family and start his career from the beginning, especially since 80% of his savings are “frozen” in the country’s bank accounts. Shortages of medicines Some medicines have disappeared from the shelves of pharmacies as Lebanese rush to build up stocks, in case the state stops covering part of their value and their prices go up. Mazd Daabul explains to the WSJ that he visited 39 pharmacies in three days, driving along the Lebanese coastline and inland mountains to get the medicine he needed for his asthma. work in the Gulf countries, hoping to find a job in Europe, North America or Australia. Now he would seize every opportunity to leave the country. “What is going to happen to us?” Some put themselves in danger of escaping the dark atmosphere of Lebanon. Even before the financial crisis, Mohammed al-Ghadour found it difficult to find work and provide for his wife and seven children. In August, he placed his last hopes and savings on a boat that embarked on the perilous journey to Cyprus, guided only by a GPS. Unlike others who lost their lives on the way, his family was lucky. He managed to cross the Mediterranean safely – only to be deported a week later by the Cypriot authorities. The event plunged him into even deeper despair: “We are below zero,” he says from his home in Tripoli, Lebanon’s poorest city. “If the middle class has nothing, what is going to happen to us?” Follow it on Google News and be the first to know all the news See all the latest news from Greece and the world, at



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