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Crisis deepens as protesters break into Lebanese ministry


The protesters who entered the Ministry of Social Affairs said conditions in crisis-hit Lebanon have become unbearable, as they stole a photo of the president from one of the main floors. Prices have been skyrocketing in recent weeks as the government lifted subsidies, making almost all items financially out of reach for many in Lebanon. As reported by the AP:

The protesters broke into the meeting room at the Lebanese ministry putting up a banner in Arabic that read ‘revolutionaries of October 17’

BEIRUT (AP) — A small group of protesters broke into a ministry building in Beirut early on Friday and removed a photo of the president from one of its main rooms, as the Lebanese pound hit a new low amid a worsening economic and political stalemate.

FILE – Children search for valuables in the garbage next to a market in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, April 12, 2021. Lebanon’s severe economic crisis that threw much of the population into poverty is dramatically affecting children leaving some go to bed hungry, lack good medial care and drop out of school to help their families, UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency said Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

The protesters who entered the Ministry of Social Affairs said conditions in crisis-hit Lebanon have become unbearable as a result of the rapid economic collapse and ongoing crash of the pound, which reached 25,100 to the dollar. The previous record was 25,000.

Prices have been skyrocketing in recent weeks as the government lifted subsidies on fuel and some medicines, making them out of reach for many in Lebanon. Some three quarters of the population of 6 million, including a million Syrian refugees, now live-in poverty. The minimum monthly wage is now worth about $27.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati attends a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron after their meeting at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on Sept. 24, 2021. Pope Francis told Lebanon’s prime minister on Wednesday that he was praying that God would help Lebanon “get up” and get back on its feet following an unprecedented economic crisis that has thrown three quarters of the country’s 6 million people, including a million Syrian refugees, into poverty. Prime Minister Najib Mikati met privately with Francis for about 20 minutes and gave him a tile from a 19th century Beirut church that was seriously damaged in the August 2020 port explosion that killed 216 people and injured more than 6,000. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

Protesters have blamed the ministry for sluggishness in issuing ration cards that are supposed to give poor families monthly financial aid.

The protesters broke into the meeting room at the ministry and turned a framed picture of President Michel Aoun upside down before removing it. They replaced it with a banner in Arabic that read “revolutionaries of October 17.”

FILE – This Aug. 5, 2020 file photo, shows the scene of an explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon. As Lebanon sinks deeper into poverty and collapse, many Lebanese are more openly criticizing the Iran-backed Hezbollah, blaming it for its role in the devastating, multiple crises plaguing the country. This includes a dramatic currency crash and severe shortages in medicines and fuel that has paralyzed the country. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)

The protesters were referring to the start of nationwide protests in October 2019 against the country’s ruling class. They are blamed for decades of corruption and mismanagement that threw the small nation into the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history.

“Those who usurped public money cannot conduct reforms,” shouted one of the protesters before leaving the building following police intervention. “We have hit rock bottom. Things cannot get worse.”

Citizens stands on their apartment balcony under a giant banner that hangs on a building damaged during last year’s seaport explosion during a one year commemoration in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021. Lebanon is marking one year since the horrific explosion at Beirut port. The grim anniversary Wednesday comes amid an unprecedented economic and financial meltdown and a political stalemate that has kept the country without a functioning government for a full year. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The crisis has been made worse by the coronavirus and the August 2020 explosion in Beirut’s port that killed 216 people, injured more than 6,000 and destroyed parts of the capital.

The Cabinet, formed in September after a 13-month vacuum, has not met in more than six weeks amid deep divisions between rival groups over the judge leading the investigation into the port blast. Comments by a government minister that triggered a diplomatic row with oil-rich Gulf Arab nations have added to the acrimony.

In other parts of the country, protesters placed posters that read “the mafia that destroyed the Lebanese pound” outside some branches of local banks, the state-run National News Agency said.

For the past two years, local lenders have imposed informal capital controls that prevent many people from accessing their savings.

Source AP

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