Geneva – The deteriorating crises in Lebanon and the government's inability to handle them have led the country to an abyss with poverty rates exceeding 55% and over 50% of migrant workers unemployed, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said today in a new report. The current situation might carry serious consequences on the lives and safety of millions living in the country.
The report, titled “Lebanon: Falling into the abyss,” reviews the various aspects of the economic crisis that has been hitting the country for nearly two years, and its impact on the humanitarian and living conditions of the Lebanese, in light of the absence of any signs that the successive crises might be alleviated anytime soon.
In addition to the research efforts, the report is based on dozens of interviews conducted by Euro-Med Monitor’s field team in Lebanon. The interviews included union officials, executives, doctors, students studying abroad and their families, and the Beirut Port explosion victims’ families.
The interviews provide a deep look at the causes of the crises, their impact on the Lebanese’s lives and the state’s policies in terms of responding to these crises that are worsening each day.
Although Lebanon suffers several crises other than the economic crisis, such as the Coronavirus pandemic and the consequences of the Beirut Port explosion, the economic crisis has the greatest impact on the lives of the Lebanese.
During the past year, the country suffered economic depression caused by a 20.3% decline in GDP growth. In addition, inflation rates have reached more than 100%, while the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound has been witnessing an unprecedented deterioration.
The prices of about 17 basic commodities, including vegetables, fruit, grains, meat, oil, dairy and dairy products, jumped by 350% due to the deterioration of the exchange rate of the lira against the dollar.
The report states that migrant workers in Lebanon were also severely affected by the economic crisis. More than half of them are now unemployed. Therefore, many of them are cannot have proper nutrition and accommodation due to inadequate housing, high rents and the threat of eviction.
The report also sheds light on the repercussions from the Beirut Port explosion and developments related to the investigation process. Judicial investigator Tariq Bitar issued a decision early last month to prosecute a number of military and security officials in the case. However, the concerned authorities have not yet cooperated with Bitar’s requests. This raises doubts about authorities’ seriousness in not obstructing the course of justice in the case that has wide local and international attention.
The report addresses daily crises that the Lebanese suffer, such as fuel and electricity shortages and financial transfers to students abroad. In terms of bread prices, they have increased eight times just this year, bringing the price of a bundle of bread (876 grams) to 4,500 Lebanese liras ($3). Therefore, many Lebanese cannot provide enough bread for their families.
As for the health sector crisis, it has become a real threat to the lives of hundreds of patients who have become unable to secure necessary medicines, especially those related to diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. Moreover, the insufficiency of medical supplies in government hospitals has greatly affected the health services provided to the Lebanese, including diagnostic tests and surgeries.
Euro-Med Monitor’s legal advisor, Tariq Hajjar, said, “The Lebanese government is obligated, according to the constitution and the human rights agreements it ratified, to provide a decent livelihood for its citizens, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that the citizens enjoy their rights, including food, health, security, work, financial transactions and other fundamental rights.”
The Lebanese authorities should develop an urgent action plan to address the main crises in order to prevent their further deterioration. This plan must include parallel measures in various sectors to ensure an actual positive change in the lives of the Lebanese.
The government should also implement comprehensive administrative and economic reform processes to confront a possible a major security breakdown resulting from poverty, absence of basic needs and the rampant corruption in various parts of the state.
The international community should take urgent and firm measures to pressure the Lebanese authorities to prevent the aggravation of the crises experienced by the Lebanese. It also should ensure the provision of the basic needs to the Lebanese by monitoring the Lebanese authorities’ performance regarding fair distribution of the aid provided to Lebanon, and by monitoring the performance of state institutions to combat corruption and enhance the role of the judiciary.