Lebanese Face Rising Life Difficulties Amid Financial Crisis
Lebanon‘s economic and financial deterioration brings serious hardship to citizens, who, for the first time, created various groups on Facebook to barter different items with each other, due to the very high inflation in the country.
“Lobnan Yokayid,” which translates into “Lebanon barters,” allows people to post images of goods they aim to trade for other products since some people cannot afford new products, including basic food items.
One lady posted a photo for her dress, asking to barter with someone willing to offer her two bags of powder milk and diapers for her little kid.
Another lady has asked for a sewing machine to be able to work and generate some revenues to support her family.
“I urgently need a sewing machine to work and I am ready to give anything in return,” she said in a Facebook post.
Lebanon has been going through the most difficult economic and financial crisis caused by a shortage in United States dollar resulting from a drop in remittances by Lebanese expats and big transfers made by wealthy people to foreign countries.
The shortage of United States currency led to the closure of thousands of businesses, leaving thousands of employees out of jobs amid an unprecedented increase in prices of basic food items and other goods.
People have also been circulating over social media photos of citizens looking into garbage cans for food.
“Unfortunately, I can say that we have already started seeing hungry people all over the country,” Director General of the Economic and Social Council in Lebanon Mohamad Saifeddine told Xinhua.
The daily change in the price of United States dollar to the Lebanese pound prompted various retail shops, including supermarkets and meat shops, to shut their doors down because they fear to sell at today’s rate and not be able to buy at the same price the very next day, he added .
“Most importantly, retailers cannot increase their prices a lot to make up for their losses because citizens’ purchasing power has dropped tremendously,” he said.
Saifeddine noted that some basic imported products will disappear from the market soon, noting that 95 percent of the items consumed in Lebanon are imported and not locally manufactured.
Meanwhile, Anis Bou Diab, member of the Economic and Social Council in Lebanon, told Xinhua that Lebanon is an importing country while it will be incapable of securing dollars in the future to import its needed items.
“Lebanon may soon be out of United States dollars, causing total absence in imported products, and the local industrial and agricultural sector are not strong enough to cater to the whole population,” he said.
“Poverty level in Lebanon has reached around 50 percent including 25 percent approximately who live under extreme poverty,” he said.
The fear from witnessing empty shelves at supermarkets amid continuous increase in inflation drove the Lebanese in the past few days to retail shops to secure their basic food needs while those who are out of money hope that the government would help one way or another.
The Lebanese cabinet had allocated in May around 400 million United States dollars to benefit 200,000 Lebanese including the elderly, public schools students, and people with special needs, with 400,000 Lebanese pounds monthly (270 United States dollars).
However, people have on many occasions complained about the insufficiency of such an amount to meet their needs.