Lebanon’s crisis deepens with surge in poverty

Daniel Forrest, is a member of the YCL in the North East

Fuel has been added to the fire in Lebanon with the contents of a new report detailing the surge in poverty and extreme poverty the country has experienced over the last year.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) recently released a report exposing the horrendous increase in poverty in Lebanon in the wake of many thousands being make homeless after the explosion that rocked Beirut recently.

The report identified how over the last year through the economic crisis and COVID-19 crisis, poverty surged from 28% in 2019 to 55% in 2020. ESCWA added that “massive explosion and an accelerating increase in the number of infections with the Coronavirus are paralyzing Lebanon, which is already suffering from the effects of overlapping shocks, which have exhausted its economy and caused an unprecedented jump in poverty rates.

The report went on to describe how the extreme poverty rate has risen from an already abhorrent 8% in 2019 to a staggering 23% in 2020, which according to the guidelines of what qualifies a person to be in extreme poverty, this means that 2.7 million people in Lebanon are living on less than 14$ a day.

This jump in poverty and desperation will doubtless add fuel to the fire of the protests that have raged over that last year in Lebanon that have taken on a new level of anger and militancy since the devastating blast that rocked Beirut this summer.

A statement released by the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) yesterday (23 August 2020) noted that, “Lebanon was in deep economic and social crisis prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, with unemployment of nearly 50 percent in 2018, extensive corruption and a widespread lack of basic services like electricity, water and sanitation. Mass protests began on 17 October 2019 and developed into a popular uprising that has continued since. Placed within this context, the Beirut explosion is seen as the culmination of this ongoing and deepening crisis.

The LCP asserts that the Lebanese people are at a “historical crossroads from which there can be no turning back.” It has prioritized building a united movement that can overthrow the government and replace it with a transitional government that is not affiliated to any of the country’s political factions. “Such a government is a top priority in order to build a new, modern, democratic, and national state. Only such a state will be able to address three crises that our country was and still facing: the economic collapse underway, the Coronavirus epidemic along with its health damages, and the repercussions resulting from the Beirut Port explosion.“”

The statement concluded, “The party warns of political and social forces that are using the crisis to promote sectarian and narrow regional agendas. In response to this threat, the LCP notes that “now is the time for unity and national solidarity, and not for any divisive, racial or exclusionist discourse.”

Daniel Forrest

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