Lebanon: People take to the streets enraged by worsening economic crisis
People in Lebanon have taken to the streets expressing their anger over the government’s handling of economic crisis. The protests all across the nation took a violent turn on Tuesday after the death of 26-year old mechanic Fawaz Fouad Al-Samman, who died during clashes with the country’s armed forces in the northern city of Tripoli on Monday. Tripoli, which is the second-largest and poorest city of Lebanon witnessed the largest and most violent protests, followed by Beirut, Sidon, Nabatieh, the Bekaa Valley, and and Akkar.
Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis, even more severe than the greatest economic slump it witnessed during the 1975-1990 civil war. The country has been witnessing bouts of protests since October but the tension gradually died down a little with the emergence of new government, which gave people hope and pledged to wipe out corruption and fix the prevailing mismanagement in the governance. It did not take long for people to realize that they have been be fooled by authorities once again.
Theriots intensified, as the country’s economic condition worsened during nationwide lockdown, imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus. During the lockdown, which was introduced around mid-March, with business activity being shut for about a month the situation grew adverse, shooting poverty to record high levels. According to a recent report, carried outthe World Bank,about 50% of the country’s population would be living in poverty by the end of this year.Besides, the leaked report of the economic recovery plan estimated that average consumer price inflation would go beyond 25% in 2020.
The country is on the brink of financial collapse it has debt equivalent to 170 % of its GDP. The crisis has grown to the extent that last month, for the first time in its history, Lebanon defaulted on payments due to lack of foreign reserves. The unprecedented level of inflation, corruption, increasing poverty rate, and the value of Lebanese pound falling to half added to the frustration of general public, which lead to riots, torching and vandalisation of banks, other government buildings and army vehicles.