Pope Francis at his Sunday Angelus address in the Vatican urged Lebanon’s leaders to find a solution to the economic crisis in the country, which he said is making small children go hungry.
Speaking ahead of the EU and UN’s June 30 conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region,” Francis asked all believers to “pray for this important meeting, so that it may improve the dramatic situation of the Syrian people and those nearby, particularly Lebanon in this serious sociopolitical and economic crisis, which the COVID-19 pandemic has made even more difficult.”
He added that in both Lebanon and Syria “there are small children who are hungry and who do not have anything to eat.”
Lebanon is going through the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history, and the local currency has lost as much as 80 percent of its value against the dollar on the black market.
Lebanon imports around 80 percent of its food, which must be paid for in hard currency, and food prices have rocketed by at least 55 percent this year as a result of the Lebanese pound’s devaluation against the dollar.
Human Rights Watch warned at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that millions of Lebanese may go hungry due to the economic crisis and loss of earning opportunities accompanied by virus containment measures.
“The lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 has compounded the poverty and economic hardship, rampant in Lebanon before the virus arrived,” HRW said in April. “Many people who had an income have lost it, and if the government does not step in, more than half the population may not be able to afford food and basic necessities.”
Hundreds of people have been queuing outside bakeries over the past few days following news that bread would stop being distributed to supermarkets and stores in light of the pound’s collapse against the dollar.
“We cannot continue in light of the high dollar exchange rate ... The dollar is equivalent to LL8,000, and we cannot continue this way,” said Ali Ibrahim, head of the Union of Bakeries Syndicates to local media Saturday.
Ibrahim said that bread would stop being distributed until “a solution to our losses is found."
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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