Rear View – Lebanon in review (4 July 2021)
30 June: Protestors take to streets in Tripoli
The city of Tripoli in North Lebanon erupted in a “social explosion” on June 30th as people took to the streets to protest the ongoing nationwide fuel shortage in Lebanon.
The lack of fuel in the country is having disastrous effects on the nation’s electricity supply. This was exemplified through the death of a child last week after both his oxygen support machine and generators were turned off due to lack of electricity.
Demonstrators threw stones and chairs at Lebanese army soldiers that were patrolling the streets. Some protestors also stormed the Kadisha Electricity Company and forced employees to supply some regions with electricity.
Mustafa Alloush, vice-president of the Future Movement and Tripoli resident, said: “What was expected has started from Tripoli and the social explosion has begun from this city. More will come if nobody intervenes immediately to halt the collapse.”
1 July: Escalating Lebanon crisis puts children at risk
In announcing the findings of their investigation into Lebanon’s current economic crisis, UNICEF reported that the devastating recession (amongst other things) has deprived families and children in the country especially. The consequences of the reduced accessibility of essentials like food, healthcare and social security reach into almost every aspect of their lives.
UNICEF’s investigation found:
-More than 30% of children went to bed hungry and skipped meals.
-77% of households do not have enough food or enough money to buy food.
-60% of households must buy food on credit or borrow money.
-30% of children do not get the primary healthcare they need
-76% of households say they are affected by the sharp increase in drug prices.
-1 in 10 children are sent to work.
-40% of children come from families without work, and 77% of children come from families without any social assistance.
-15% of families stopped their children’s education.
-80% of caregivers say that their children have difficulty concentrating on studying at home – indicating either hunger or mental stress.
2 July: Beirut explosion investigator goes after politicians, security chiefs
Judge Tariq Bitar has announced his intention to prosecute Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, as well as a number of other former ministers and security and judicial officials.
Bitar spent several months hearing witness evidence before announcing the prosecutions, which also include former Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, former Minister of Defense and Public Works Ghazi Zaiter, former Interior Minister Nouhad Al-Mashnouq and former Minister of Transport and Public Works Yusef Fenianos.
Bitar is the second judge to front this investigation after his predecessor, Fadi Sawan, was dismissed following complaints against him after he sought to indict Khalil, Zaiter and Fenianos. To avoid the same fate, Bitar has submitted a formal request through the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor for these former ministers’ immunity from prosecution to be rescinded.
Bitar also seeks to charge:
• Director-General of the Lebanese General Security Directorate, Major General Abbas Ibrahim
• Head of State Security, Major General Tony Saliba
• Former Army Commander General Jean Kahwaji
• Former Head of Military Intelligence, Brigadier General Kameel Daher
• Former Intelligence Generals Ghassan Gharzeddin and Jawdat Oueidat
2 July: Pope Francis holds largest ever prayer day for a single country
Pope Francis, together with 10 senior leaders of Lebanese Christian churches and communities, prayed for the Lebanese people’s liberation from the terrible situation that has engulfed their country, a move designed to rekindle hope for the collapsing nation.
In addition to prayers, the participants also held several closed-door meetings with the Pope, who ended the day with universal prayer services and speeches. The meetings discussed the Lebanese crisis and possible solutions. In his concluding speech, the Pope called on Lebanese political leaders to find a solution and urged the international community to help.
Pope Francis recently expressed interest in visiting Lebanon, but not before the establishment of the government.
4 July: Foreign medical supplies have almost run out
Importers of medicine in Lebanon on July 4th told that stocks of hundreds of essential drugs have run out. The association of pharmaceuticals importers said in a statement that medical “imports have almost completely ground to a halt over the past month.”
The medicines in question include those used to treat chronic and uncurable diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis and various cardiac conditions.
The association claimed that the central bank has not released the more than $600 million required to pay overseas suppliers, a figure that has accumulated since December, and new lines of credit are unattainable. Syndicate head Karim Gebara said that the situation would reach catastrophe by the end of July if action was not taken.
On July 1st, President Michel Aoun said he, outgoing ministers and the central bank chief had agreed to “continue subsidising medication and medical supplies” selected by the health ministry according to priority
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