Lebanon’s economy collapses into a tailspin

Demostration in Lebanon
File photo : a demonstration in Beirut Lebanon against the government

Sounding the alarm over the crippling impact of “growing economic shocks, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic” in Lebanon, the UN human rights chief called on Friday for a unified response by politicians and the people to overcome the worsening socio-economic crisis there. 

“Many have lost jobs, seen their life-savings evaporate before their eyes and lost their homes”, underscored High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, urging the Government, political parties and the financial sector, to work together to protect the poorest and most defenceless.

As of April, Government estimates reveal that a staggering 75 per cent of the population need aid. 

Amidst the acute economic downturn, the COVID pandemic and containment measures, one in three Lebanese have reportedly lost their jobs, while many others are likely to be pushed into the informal sector. 

“Unemployment propels poverty and indebtedness”, said the head of the UN rights office (OHCHR).

“In a country with no unemployment benefits and fragile social security nets, an unemployment crisis has grave implications not only for the economy but for the very social fabric of the country”.

The UN rights chief called on the country’s political parties and leaders to enact urgently needed reforms, and to prioritize the provision of essential needs, including food, electricity, health and education. 

The international community needs to increase its assistance to the Government to support these efforts, she added.

“Without strengthened social safety nets and bolstered basic assistance to ease the pain caused by required structural reform, vulnerable Lebanese, migrant workers and refugees will be pushed further into poverty and extreme poverty”, the High Commissioner spelled out. 
“The alarm has been sounded, and we must respond immediately before it is too late”.