Bread queues return to Lebanon as protests surge over economy crisis

Bread queues return to Lebanon as protests surge over economy crisis
Lebanon's national currency has collapsed, prompting renewed protests across the country on Sunday night.
2 min read
29 June, 2020
On Sunday evening Lebanese cities witnessed widespread unrest. [Getty]
People in Lebanon are once again queuing in front of bakeries in the hopes of getting their much needed share of bread, as the country spirals into an unprecedented economic crisis.

The national currency has collapsed, leading the Lebanese pound to lose more than 70 percent of its value - pompting  renewed protests across the country on Sunday night.

Over the past few days, videos have surfaced on social media of Lebanese citizens crowding bakeries, and even bread trucks, to battle for loaves of bread.

Furnace owners have refrained from selling their bread to shops due to alleged high production costs according to fluctuation in the currency’s exchange rates, Arabi21 reported.

Activists in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city north of Beirut, called for protests on Monday, which have resulted in the closure of shops.

Local residents tweeted images of the onece-bustling markets empty, with the stalls removed and shuttered shop fronts on Monday morning.

The head of the Bakeries Owners Syndicate in Beirut, Ali Ibrahim, said on a local radio on Monday: "If we do not reach an agreement today, there will be no distribution of bread tomorrow.”

"[Bakeries] can no longer distribute bread in light of the difficult economic conditions, especially the cost, which has become very expensive."

He called for "fairness in order to continue the distribution" urging the Lebanese government to tackle the cost fluctuation.

Despite government efforts to manage the currency crash - including injecting dollars into the market and setting a higher rate for specific transactions - chaos prevailed and the parallel currency market continued to thrive.

On Sunday evening Lebanese cities witnessed widespread unrest, with protesters speaking out against the economic hardships they have had to endure.

The army intervened to prevent the highway being cut off by dozens gathered to the east of the capital, in the region of Antelias, attempting to prop up blockades and chanting against the ruling political class. This resulted in a clash that left ten people wounded.

Due to this crisis, local Lebanese media have reported that the Director General of the Ministry of Finance Alan Bivani, submitted his resignation on Monday.

Livani was responsible for negotiating with the International Monetary Fund but quit his post telling Al-Jadeed TV that he did not agree with the Lebanese leaders’ handling of the crisis.

Highly indebted Lebanon is in the throes of financial and economic crises, made worse by restrictions imposed to combat the coronavirus in March.

Political rivalries have also complicated negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, even as the Lebanese government requested $10 billion in financial assistance last month.

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