LEBANON TO UNDERGO SEVERE FOOD CRISIS AMIDST HUGE ECONOMIC DISRUPTION

The 4 August blast in Lebanon’s Beirut port killed more than 150 people and injured many more. The blast occurred at a time when Lebanon was struggling against Covid-19 and a deep economic downturn which has pushed unemployment and inflation very high. The blast had not only exacerbated the economic downturn but also created a new humanitarian crisis in the country. It had destroyed the Beirut sea port which is the country’s largest grain storage facility and through which around 85% food imports come to Lebanon.
Lebanon heavily depends upon imports for its food needs but with the 80% depreciation of Lebanese currency and the annihilation of the Beirut sea port, the country will face an alarming situation, experts have warned. “Already we were in a situation where in many families the parents and the children would go to bed hungry, but it was a manageable hunger,” said Jad Sakr, Lebanon country director for the charity Save the Children. But given the current circumstances in Lebanon, absolute starvation may become the norm.
“More than half of the country’s population is at risk of failing to access their basic food needs by the year’s end,” the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said on Sunday. The acute food shortage in Lebanon is worsened by the erosion of purchasing power of the Lebanese people due to soaring food prices and thus they are “trapped in poverty and struggling for bare necessities”.
Lebanon is also on the brink of an acute humanitarian crisis due to growing starvation, mass protests and political instability. The United Nations has projected that Lebanon will need more than $47 million to ensure food security in the immediate future.
ESCWA executive secretary Rola Dashti suggested that Lebanon’s government must focus on rebuilding the grain silos in the Beirut sea port, set ceilings on food prices and encourage direct sales from local producers to consumers.

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