The paralysis of Lebanon and the collapse of the state
The international community is failing to speed up government formation in Lebanon, even with an economy in the throes of collapse.
ZEINA KHODR: Pizza Hut is the latest international chain to shut down as Lebanese politicians failed to stop the economic collapse. These are the same people who are accused of having made the country the third most indebted country in the world.
ABU ABBASS: [SPEAKING ARABIC]
INTERPRETER: They are thieves and crooks. It is a mafia state. They stole everything.
ZEINA KHODR: The consequences of decades of mismanagement and corruption are obvious. In some intersections, the traffic lights do not work. The infrastructure is crumbling.
ALI BABHDADI: [SPEAKING ARABIC]
INTERPRETER: In the first place, there is no state. So how can there be traffic lights?
ZEINA KHODR: In other streets, manhole covers are missing. Authorities, who cannot afford to replace them, say growing poverty is the reason people are robbing them. For many it is a daily struggle in a country that matters almost everything.
The quality of life of the Lebanese people is changing. There is a fuel shortage, for example, and the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves are running out to keep prices affordable.
There is also a problem in obtaining medication.
HUDA: [SPEAKING ARABIC]
INTERPRETER: Sometimes we can’t find an alternative medicine, so we have to wait for someone from abroad. But medicine cannot wait.
– [SPEAKING ARABIC]
INTERPRETER: It’s not just medicine. Finding milk for children is just as difficult.
KARAM SAFWAN: [SPEAKING ARABIC]
INTERPRETER: There is no humiliation worse than this, and people say it will get worse. We are suffocating.
ZEINA KHODR: Public hospitals, long underfunded and neglected, are now at the forefront of healthcare as more people lose their jobs and private insurance.
HUSSEIN KATAYA: The company provided medical supplies for the hospital. They pay the billing. Need an invoice and pay in dollars. It is not available in our hospital because we are a government hospital.
ZEINA KHODR: The lack of hard currency in a country near bankruptcy is also affecting the military, which now receives donations from various countries to help feed its soldiers, whose salaries have been slashed by 80%.
CHARBEL WEHBE: [SPEAKING ARABIC]
INTERPRETER: The budget is the same, but the currency has devalued. Most of the soldiers’ needs are imported, including food. So it affects their morale and nutrition.
ZEINA KHODR: Daily power cuts, which have been a part of life for years, are getting worse as cash flow for fuel imports runs out. Lebanon is increasingly described as a failed state. Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera, Beirut.