Protesters block roads when Lebanon’s pound reaches its lowest point

Protesters blocked roads with burning tires and dumps over Lebanon on Tuesday after the currency tumbled to a new low in an economic collapse that has driven poverty.

“We can no longer bear it … The dollar is rising and they do not care about us. They are still dividing their profits,” said Rabih Khaled, who has been unemployed for several months, in one of the protests.

Crushed under a mountain of debt, Lebanon is struggling with a financial crisis that has wiped out jobs, raised warnings about 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 reduced about 85% of its value in a country that is heavily dependent on imports.

The decline was the last straw for many who have seen prices of consumer goods such as nappies or cereals almost tripled since the crisis broke out.

“They take away our dignity. We came down today to say no we have dignity … We are not insects. They control the dollar for your interests to steal money from the people,” said 43-year-old Tawfik Marei. .

“If I can still afford bread to feed my children, others can not. I tell everyone to go down the streets for these people.”

Protesters block a main road from the capital Beirut and the airport road. People also took to the streets in other cities 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 on a rescue plan since the crisis, rooted in decades of state transplants, erupted in late 2019 as dollar flows dried up.

By that time, protesters had swept the country angry over economic hardship and new tax plans, including a daily fee of 20 cents on WhatsApp calls.

The currency last touched low levels close to 10,000 in the summer of 2020, weeks before the huge whirlwind in August that destroyed much of Beirut.

“I ask the president to have a conscience and be aware of the tragic situation we are facing,” said Katia Bassil, a graphic designer, in central Beirut on Tuesday.

(REUTERS)