Protesters blocked roads with burning tyres and dumpsters across Lebanon on Tuesday after the currency tumbled to a new low in a financial meltdown that has fueled poverty.
“We can’t bear it anymore…The dollar is going up and they don’t care about us. They’re still dividing up their gains,” Rabih Khaled, who has been unemployed for months, said at one of the protests.
Crushed under a mountain of debt, Lebanon is grappling with a financial crisis that has wiped out jobs, raised warnings of growing hunger and locked people out of their bank deposits.
The collapse of the Lebanese pound, which fell to 10,000 to the dollar on Tuesday, has slashed about 85% of its value in a country relying heavily on imports.
The decline was the last straw for many who have seen prices of consumer goods such as diapers or cereals nearly triple since the crisis erupted.
“They’re taking away our dignity. We came down today to say no we have dignity … We are not insects. They are controlling the dollar for your interests to steal money from the people,” 43-year old Tawfik Marei said.
“If I can still afford to get bread to feed my kids, others can’t. I’m telling everyone to go down to the streets for these people.”
Protesters shut down a main highway out of the capital Beirut and the airport road. People took to the streets in other cities as well after the cost of scarce dollars hit 10,000 Lebanese pounds on the informal market.
That makes Lebanon’s minimum wage worth about $68 a month.
Political leaders have failed to agree a rescue plan since the crisis, rooted in decades of state graft, erupted in late 2019 as dollar inflows dried up. Read More