Rear View – Lebanon in review (03 December 2021)
30 November: Christmas only for the wealthy.
Two lots of Christmas tree lights now cost what could once fill an entire house with decorations in Lebanon. Hyperinflation and the continually crashing currency will prevent most Lebanese from renovating their decorations this year.
Before the current economic crisis, when exchange rates were 1,500 LBP to the USD, a home could be decorated with 200,000 LBP. Now, one set of Christmas tree lights costs 100,000 LBP.
Many shops have shut their doors due to inflation and the reduction in shoppers. Many shop owners are concerned about their extremely expensive electricity bills, rising rents, and the rising dollar rate. Black market exchange rates affect all prices in the country, increasing people’s burden day by day.
01 December: New Covid curfew in Lebanon.
From December 17th to January 9th, a nationwide curfew will be imposed for any person who is unvaccinated or who has not received a negative PCR test within the past 48hrs. The curfew will run from 7PM to 6AM.
The curfew was negotiated by members of a Coronavirus Committee and Prime Minister Najib Mikati in light of the recent emergence of coronavirus cases in Lebanon.
Similarly, as of December 10th, tourist establishments, restaurants, and hotels must refrain from receiving guests who have not been vaccinated with at least one dose or have not had a negative PCR test in the last 48 hours.
It will be requested that the Ministry of Justice tighten the crackdown on violations of Covid-19 restrictions and measures and speed up the issuance of judgements against violators. Additionally, the decision was made to direct all security agencies and municipalities to keep track of the implementation of the measures and to tighten controls on their violation.
01 December: Lebanese international students crowdfunding tuition.
The combined effect of Covid and Lebanon’s economic crisis has made international education unaffordable for many Lebanese students. Some have resorted to online fundraising to pay for their tuition.
The value of the Lebanese currency has plummeted more than 90% in the last few years. Families of Lebanese international students have been unable to pay tuition fees for their children as Lebanese banks have frozen their savings accounts since the financial crisis in 2019.
The majority of the population has been severely affected by the fragile economic situation, which was made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Beirut port explosion. While money transfers abroad continue to be heavily restricted, people are filing lawsuits against banks on behalf of students abroad and protests from families have taken place against Banque Du Liban, the Lebanese Central Bank.
Students who desperately want to finish their education abroad are resorting to online fundraising, or otherwise returning home if they can.
Simon Al Ayyas, a student in the United Kingdom, created a GoFundMe page to collect the amount of money needed to enable him to continue his studies.
“I lost my job because of Covid-19 and my family in Lebanon were fighting the bank to allow the amount of money to be sent in dollars, and my University notified me that I had to pay as soon as possible otherwise I was restricted from continuing the next semester,” Al Ayyas told 961News.
“My cousin had told me about someone who successfully managed to collect donations to fund his university tuition and I thought I would give it a try.”
Al Ayyas eventually managed to collect the needed amount to continue his degree in the United Kingdom.
02 December: Greater regulation of medicine in Lebanon.
Lebanon’s Public Health Minister, Dr. Firass Abiad, has announced a new program that will track used for drugs for cancer and intractable diseases. Meditrack aims to prevent the smuggling, monopoly, or stockpiling of medicine and ensures they only reach the intended recipient.
Public and private hospitals have begun receiving training on the new program, with the first session taking place at the Hariri University Hospital for 20 public and private hospitals.
Meditrack will provide each patient with a unique health identification card, which will ensure their medication boxes are marked with a barcode to track their medication movement between pharmacies, hospitals, importers, and warehouses.
In the first phase, Meditrack will target expensive drugs used in the treatment of cancer and other intractable diseases. This scope will be expanded in the second stage.
This program has been developed and implemented by the national e-health program of the Lebanese Health Ministry with the support of the WHO and the European Union.
02 December: Cash aid cards now available in Lebanon.
Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs has launched a cash assistance program for families and students who meet specified conditions. Payment is $20 per family member plus an extra $25 per family and tuition paid directly to schools.
The program has two phases – Aman and FIC. The first phase, Aman, covers 150,000 of the poorest families, and 87,000 students from beneficiary families enrolled in public schools.
After the registration period, which began on December 1st and ends on January 31st 2022, the payment of aid will begin on March 1st, 2022 and apply retroactively for January and February 2022. 700,000 vulnerable families are projected to benefit from the program overall. These families have been struggling to cope with the lifting of government subsidies and inflation.
Money transfer centers located throughout Lebanon will be used to transfer the aid monthly in US dollars. In order to receive assistance from the support network, the head of the family must meet certain conditions and criteria.
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