Economic crisis, serious shortage makes Lebanon “uninhabitable”

Beirut (AP) — Ibrahim Arab waits in line for several hours a day to buy taxi gas in the hot summer sun.

When he wasn’t working, his two 37-year-old fathers drove from one pharmacy in Beirut to another, looking for their seven-month-old son’s infant formula. An unfamiliar brand.

He is worried about what happens if the children really get sick.Once one of the best hospitals in the region, the Lebanese hospital has several hours of daily power outages, a shortage of diesel fuel for backup generators, and Lack of medical equipment and medicine..

After 20 months of endless suffering, a new reality has arrived for most of Lebanon’s estimated 6 million people.From car spare parts medicine, Fuels from import-dependent countries and other basic commodities.

“My life was already difficult, and now the petrol crisis only made things worse,” the Arab said recently. To survive, he has a second job at a grocery store in Beirut, but his monthly income in Lebanese pounds has lost 95% of his purchasing power.

The crisis, which began in late 2019, is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by the post-Civil War political class, which accumulated debt and did little to encourage local industry, and the country is mostly Everything is forced to depend on imports.

The Lebanese pound plummeted, banks curtailed withdrawals and remittances, and hyperinflation surged.

Tight liquidity undermines the government’s ability to provide fuel, electricity and basic services. The dollar shortage is eradicating drug and energy imports.

Fuel shortages have raised particular concerns that the country can be paralyzed. Even private generators that Lebanese have been using for decades need to be turned off for hours to save diesel.

“We’re really in hell,” tweeted Philus Aviad, director of the Raffic Hariri University Hospital, who heads the fight against the country’s coronavirus. Despite the heat wave, the hospital decided on Monday to turn off the air conditioner, except in the medical department.

Power cuts have affected internet connectivity in various cities, but warn that bakeries may have to be closed due to lack of fuel.

The situation has been exacerbated in recent weeks by petrol pump brawls and shootings, including a petrol pump in the northern city of Tripoli, where the son of a station owner was killed.

Many Lebanese blame the incompetence of their leaders I don’t want to work together To solve the crisis.

The country has not functioned since Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet resigned a few days later. Explosion at Beirut port on August 4, 2020, It killed 211 people and injured more than 6,000. The catastrophic explosion was caused by nearly 3,000 tonnes of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, which had been improperly stored for years.

They expect the economy to get worse because the inhabitants Find a way to adapt and deal with..

Some people pay to fill their cars so they don’t have to wait for hours. Others take laptops and work in rows that extend from inside the car to blocks, known as “humiliation rows.”

Many rely on sending medicines and infant formula to relatives and friends abroad. Those who can afford it fly to a nearby country for a day or two and stock up for months.

A man working on solar energy said the business is booming as people tired of decades of government promises repair Lebanon’s power grid.

Last week, Diab approved a loan for energy imports at a rate higher than the official exchange rate, effectively reducing fuel subsidies amid worsening shortages. The move, which came into effect on Tuesday, is expected to begin to temporarily ease the crisis, although prices have risen 35%.

Some people are storing fuel for fear that prices will almost double, which is contributing to that shortage. Such price increases put the cost of fuel out of the reach of many in countries where more than half of the population is suffering from poverty.

Others smuggle it Neighboring Syria with its own fuel crisis Where the price of gasoline is five times higher than in Lebanon. But it also leads to a shortage of Lebanon.

Due to the crisis, angry residents across the country protested and blocked the road.

They seized several tank trucks in northern Lebanon and distributed gasoline to passers-by free of charge. Another group confiscated a truck carrying powdered milk and distributed its contents.

“Our business has become a weapon of mass destruction job,” said 24-year-old Ahed Makarem, who works at a gas station in Damor, a coastal village south of Beirut.

As he said, a row of hundreds of cars slowly moved along the highway. Dozens of workers operated 12 pumps at the station to fill vehicles and scooters. The driver was limited to 20 liters (about 5 1/4 gallons).

According to Makalem, the 13-hour shift begins at 6 am and there is little time to eat or sit. Conflicts broke out in the last few weeks as some people tried to line up, he said, and when the station closed at 7 pm, police sometimes called off angry customers who were waiting in vain. He added that he had to intervene.

Many are afraid that things will get worse in the coming months as central bank reserves are declining and no solution is visible. Lawmakers are working on a distribution card system that gives about 500,000 poor families between $ 93 and $ 137 a month. If approved, it will lead to even smaller subsidies and soaring prices.

The taxi driver, Arab, is prepared in case the temporary solution collapses and the crisis worsens.

He had to repair the brakes on his car recently, and his engine needed spare parts. It cost him more than twice the minimum monthly salary in Lebanon.

“I wish I had the opportunity to leave. I can’t live in this country,” said the Arabs.

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