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UN Blames Lebanese Politicians for Forcing Population Into Poverty

By Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat
A placard held by a demonstrator at a rally in Beirut on October 20, 2019 reads, ‘When we say all of you (should leave), we mean all of you. You (the political class) are sectarian. We are for coexistence’. (Reuters)

Lebanon’s political and financial leaders are responsible for forcing most of the country’s population into poverty, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Olivier De Schutter, said in a report published Wednesday.

He stressed that the Lebanese State, including its Central Bank, is responsible for human rights violations, including the unnecessary immiseration of the population, that have resulted from this man-made crisis.

“Lebanon needs to change course. The misery inflicted on the population can be reversed with leadership that places social justice, transparency and accountability at the core of its actions,” he said.

The report follows De Schutter’s visit to Lebanon last November and an investigation into the root causes and impacts of the country’s worst economic and financial crisis in history.

He warned that an entire generation has been condemned to destitution, with families skipping meals, children compelled to work and women facing increased violence.

The UN expert also stressed that the economic crisis in the country was entirely avoidable and that it was manufactured by failed government policies.

De Schutter expressed his regrets that Lebanon lacks comprehensive, accurate official data on poverty, revealing that most baseline data collection efforts are currently undertaken by NGOs and UN agencies.

“The Government’s failure to collect data hampers analysis, sound policy proposals and its own ability to alleviate poverty,” he said.

Also, De Schutter accused the political leadership of being completely out of touch with reality, including with the desperation they’ve created by destroying people’s lives.

The UN expert found that since 2019, over 80 percent of Lebanon’s population has been pushed into poverty, the currency has lost 95 percent of its value, and prices have increased by more than 200 percent.

He said that nine in 10 people are finding it difficult to get by on their income and more than 6 in 10 would leave the country if they could.

The UN expert then concluded that the international community can and should provide support, but such support will only have an impact if structural reforms are adopted to put an end to the process of impoverishment.

The UN report came days before the parliamentary elections scheduled for Sunday, the first since the start of the economic collapse in the country.

However, experts believe the elections will not produce a change in the general political scene, despite large-scale popular uprising against the political class.

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Dive Deeper:
Lebanese state violated human rights by mismanaging crisis, UN poverty envoy says
Lebanon's government and its central bank have committed human rights violations by impoverishing people through the "callous destruction" of the…
Lebanon Vote Seen as Last Chance in Crisis-Plagued Nation
In households across Lebanon, it's likely that one or more family members are planning to emigrate - if they can…
Lebanon: small, multi-religious Mideast country
Beirut (AFP) - Lebanon, a small Mediterranean country wracked by political and economic turmoil and the fallout of the decade-old…
Despite public anger, Lebanon vote set to entrench status quo
Beirut (AFP) - Lebanon's elections Sunday won't yield a seismic shift despite widespread discontent with a graft-tainted political class blamed…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
A stable Lebanon is in Israel's interests - editorial
Lebanon is an important country, and our friends in the Gulf care about what happens in Beirut.
Lebanese parliamentary elections: High stakes for first poll since 2019 protests
On May 15, parliamentary elections will take place nationwide in Lebanon. The Lebanese diaspora, estimated to be double the size…
Get all your news in one place