Deterioration of Lebanese living conditions: the diaspora helps survival

An unprecedented economic crisis hits the Lebanese, Beirut, April 12, 2021. AP - Hassan Ammar

Text by: Paul Khalifeh Follow

3 min

For the past two years, Lebanon has been hit by a multidimensional crisis that has destroyed the economy, swept away social safety nets and paralyzed political institutions.

The middle class has collapsed and poverty reaches 80% of the population.

The abysmal depreciation of the national currency has led to the destruction of purchasing power and a surge in the prices of consumer products.

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From our correspondent in Beirut

To buy a box of infant milk, a family currently has to pay a sixth of the minimum wage and for 20 liters of gasoline, half of that wage.

Unemployment affects 500,000 people, that is to say more than a third of the active force.

Faced with the scale of the current crisis which is causing the collapse of purchasing power and the devaluation of bank savings which have lost three quarters of their value, the country should normally be close to famine.

But this worst-case scenario is avoided thanks to family solidarity, the help provided by members of the diaspora to their relatives who remain in Lebanon.

The diaspora mobilized

There are nearly ten million Lebanese or people of Lebanese origin in the world, almost twice the number of residents.

This community, present on all continents, sends several billion dollars every year, which allows families to meet their basic needs.

For example, the 300,000 Lebanese who work in the Gulf monarchies send to Lebanon between 800 million and one billion dollars.

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: "The Suitcases", when the Lebanese diaspora in Europe mobilizes to help their country 

According to unofficial statistics, more than 65% of Lebanese residents have a family member or relative living abroad.

This does not solve everything.

Despite the contribution of the diaspora, many Lebanese are struggling to make ends meet.

A recent UNICEF survey indicates that 53% of Lebanese families have at least one child who was deprived of a meal a day in October, compared to 37% in April. 

According to this study, the proportion of families who sent their children to work rose from 9% to 12%.

Despite family solidarity, we can see that the category of the most deprived swells from month to month.

If prices continue to rise and purchasing power to erode, in some time even the contribution of the diaspora will be insufficient to help families to feed themselves.

The bankrupt state

The Bank of Lebanon saw its reserves halved in 18 months due to the policy of subsidizing food products and fuel which cost the Treasury 20 billion dollars, while the inflows were close to zero.

The government launched the procurement card last week.

More than 200,000 families are expected to benefit from this World Bank-funded project with a ceiling of $ 125 per family.

But the payment should not start until next March with a retroactive effect of two months.

Until then, the Lebanese will have to find other means to resist the crisis.

► Also to listen: 

 “Lebanon, in the heart of chaos”: a bankrupt State

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