Lebanon. Abboud (Caritas): “Economic crisis never seen before, suicide every other day”

The new poor are now arriving at Caritas Lebanon, the Lebanese workers who, due to inflation of 138%, are forced to deal with food prices that have risen up to 500% and fallen in the purchasing power of wages. %. Every other day, there is a case of suicide because people do not reach the end of the month while tensions between Syrian and Lebanese refugees skyrocket. Father Michel Abboud, President of Caritas Lebanon, speaks among the speakers at the 42nd National Congress of Diocesan Caritas in Rho (Milan).

(photo Italian Caritas)

In Lebanon, the economic situation, with the inevitable social consequences, is more critical than ever. The new poor, the Lebanese workers, are now arriving at the canteens and social and health services of Caritas Lebanon, which due to inflation of 138% are forced to deal with food prices, which have risen up to 500% and the fall in the purchasing power of wages by 90%. There is a case of suicide every other day. In addition, in a country of 4 million inhabitants with 1.5 million refugees, mostly Syrians, tensions are among the poor soaring. “We have many new poor and new needs. We help people live “, he says to SIR father Michel AbboudPresident of Caritas Lebanon, among the speakers at the 42nd National Congress of Diocesan Caritas in Rho (Milan) from 20 to 23 June.

Father Michel Abboud, Caritas Lebanon – (photo SIR)

So many new poor and new needs. “We are experiencing an economic crisis that has never been seen before – he continues – a salary of $ 1000 is now worth $ 100. People can not get to the hospital because they do not have the money to pay for treatment, so everyone comes to Caritas, even though the new poor are not used to asking.Before the pandemic we could not move, but now that we are returning to our homes, we see many people refusing to go to the hospital and asking to die in their homes.

It has never happened to see teachers looking for food in the trash in the morning ”.

However, there is a part of the Lebanese community that is still wealthy: These are the ones who did not want to rebuild the houses that were destroyed by the explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020 and instead decided to flee abroad.

In one year, 200,000 Lebanese left the country to seek work elsewhere.

The less affluent also travel by relying on human traffickers and traveling along Mediterranean routes.

“Lebanon is not a poor country, it is a stolen country says Father Abboud -. We have a dark future ahead of us ”. Three months ago, Caritas conducted a study which revealed that a case of suicide occurs every other day: “It was a surprise for us. Because there are so many people who can not reach the end of the month. Teenagers who previously received money from their parents and now no longer, react irrationally ”.

After the explosion at the port of Beirut Caritas also helped people living in rented houses on the harbor renovate them. “For the first time, we welcome people and families who are asking for psychological help – he says – they are still experiencing the trauma of that tragedy. Many have lost their homes, families and health. Children do not sleep at night, they have nightmares. People , who were superficially treated at the time, are now experiencing the consequences for their physical health ”.

Tensions between refugees and Lebanese. In a situation of severe economic crisis, wars between the poor are almost inevitable. Every fourth person in Lebanon is a refugee (Syrians or Palestinians), and Caritas helps everyone, Lebanese and refugees. “There’s a big social conflict – says Father Abboud – when people see Syrians go to banks to take money from international projects, the Lebanese react badly.” election and return to villages in Syria during the holidays? Why do they not come home? We are trying to explain that all this money comes from abroad, not from Lebanon ”. Now he concludes, “we are doing many projects for the new poor and for development. But we are afraid that there will be no help due to the conflict in Ukraine”.

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