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This article is more than 3 month old.

Lebanon crisis: Catastrophic situation brought about by sectarian violence, economic collapse, refugee influx

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Following the Beirut port warehouse blast which killed 215 people, Lebanon’s economy has been sliding steadily; now, a deal in the making between Lebanese PM Najib Mikati and the IMF is seen further sinking the nation’s economy.

Lebanon crisis: Catastrophic situation brought about by sectarian violence, economic collapse, refugee influx
Although an uneasy calm is prevailing in the country for now, its residents are aware that even a flicker can bring the two main Shiite parties – Hezbollah and the Amal Movement — and the Christian right-wing Lebanese Forces, to a flashpoint.
That aside, the country is dealing with a terrible economic crisis — one of the worst in its history — and a huge refugee influx from neighbouring Syria.
Sectarian violence
Last year, the country witnessed one of the world's deadliest non-nuclear explosions after tonnes of ammonium nitrate that was improperly stored at a Beirut port warehouse detonated. The explosion killed at least 215 people.
Subsequently, a legal proceeding was initiated to hold accountability for the blast. However, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have alleged that the probe is falsely targeting them.
Judge Tarek Bitar, leading the complicated investigation, has been accused by Shias of politicising the probe.
On Friday, a heavy gunfight broke out when Shia protesters were taking out a rally to demand the dismissal of Judge Bitar from the case. No one knows who fired the first shot, but a heavy exchange of gunfire ensued, separating predominantly Muslim and Christian areas of Beirut.
The two Shiite parties have blamed Lebanese Forces for installing snipers at rooftops and starting the gunfight, a claim denied by the Christian right-wing group.
Economic collapse
Decades of financial mismanagement and corruption by the sectarian elite have pushed the nation into a deep economic mess. Lebanon’s foreign exchange reserve has depleted and import bills have gone up. Lebanon's currency has lost 90 percent of its value since 2019 and one-third of its population is living in “extreme poverty”, says the United Nations.
The country is also dealing with hyperinflation as prices of basic commodities have shot up by more than 400 percent. Weekly grocery bills could equal many months of a normal family’s income. Banks are not letting people withdraw their money. Even basic medicines are hard to obtain and gas-station lines are seen snaking for long distances. Last week, the entire nation witnessed a 24-hour blackout after two of its major power plants ran out of diesel. Power was finally restored after Lebanon’s central bank provided its energy ministry with US$100 million of credit to purchase fuel.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw the country’s economy contract by more than 20 percent in 2020.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a billionaire telecommunications tycoon, is working out a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but there’s fear the conditions of the agreement could further sink the nation’s economy.
Refugee crisis
According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Lebanon has 8,65,530 registered refugees from Syria, a bordering nation. However, the actual number of Syrian refugees is an estimated 1.5 million.
Besides this, the country is also home to about 1,74,422 Palestinian refugees, according to a UNICEF report.
Clearly, the huge refugee influx has put an economic burden on the resources of the country, which is already reeling under an economic crisis.
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