Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis has unfolded since late 2019, crippling the import-dependent nation and leaving residents struggling to find fuel, medicines and basic supplies.
Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister has warned that the country is hurtling toward a “social explosion” and appealed on the international community for assistance to prevent the demise of the nation facing multiple crises.
Hassan Diab's plea on Tuesday came as he spoke to diplomats in Lebanon, where politicians have failed to agree on forming a new government, nearly a year after Diab’s Cabinet resigned.
His government has been acting in caretaker capacity since August 2020, when he stepped down following a massive explosion at the Beirut Port that only compounded the country’s crises.
Diab urged friendly nations to extend assistance despite the lack of a new government, saying that linking aid to reform of a deeply corrupt system has become a “threat to the lives of Lebanese” and to the country’s stability.
Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis has unfolded since late 2019, spiralling out of control in this country of over 6 million, including more than a million Syrian refugees.
A foreign currency shortage has crippled the import-dependent nation, leaving residents struggling to find fuel, medicines and basic supplies.
Daily power outages last for hours, threatening hospitals and food stores and leaving entire neighbourhoods in darkness.
The World Bank called it one of the worst crises since 1850s and described Lebanon’s economic contraction as brutal.
The national currency lost nearly 95 percent of its value, plunging the once middle-income country into poverty.
Decades of corruption
The political crisis is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by a post-civil war political class that has accumulated debt and done little to encourage local industries.
Banks, once the country’s booming sector, have imposed informal capital controls and depositors are unable to freely access their accounts.
Lebanon has been promised billions in international assistance, pending a reform plan to deal with corruption. But vying for power and trading blame, the political elite never agreed.
“I appeal through you to the kings, princes, presidents and leaders of brotherly and friendly countries, and I call upon the United Nations and all international bodies, the international community, and the global public opinion to help save the Lebanese from death and prevent the demise of Lebanon," Diab told the diplomats.