August 20, 2020

What’s Next for Lebanon?

The twin explosions at Beirut’s port on 4th of August were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon’s government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

The timing could not be worse. 

In recent weeks, Lebanon, one of the world’s most indebted countries, has spiraled into chaos after decades of economic mismanagement.

Crime is spiking as desperate Lebanese seek scarce basics like food and medicine, while others are turning to a swarming online barter economy to survive — clothes for baby formula? The deepening economic crisis recently pushed at least 500,000 children in Beirut into poverty, an aid group warned in July.

International observers, meanwhile, have questioned whether Lebanon has already breached the “failed state” threshold.

International support

So far, many countries have offered Beirut urgent humanitarian aid in the form of generators, medical equipment and personnel, and even some cash. SEMA US, for its part, is sending medical teams to for survivors, while keeping the rest of its core services active and open to everyone.

While immediate humanitarian support has been forthcoming — and encouraging — the aid itself is unlikely to pull Lebanon back from the brink. There are several reasons for this.

Humanitarian aid is one thing, but financial lifelines are another. 

Even before the pandemic crippled the global economy, the World Bank predicted that 50 percent of Lebanese could be living below the poverty line if current trends continued. Hoping to stave off its worst economic crisis since the 15-year civil war ended in 1990, Beirut has since appealed to international creditors like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a whopping $10 billion in financial assistance, but the IMF has refused to play ball.

The Corona Revolution

On top of the explosion, Lebanon is also dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, and the immediate short-term future is looking especially grim for ordinary people.

The country recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases and deaths, with doctors expecting the number to rise due to overcrowding in hospitals following the blast.

The blast stunned a nation already reeling from an economic crisis and We’re trying to see how to best adapt our projects under such circumstances.

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