More people living in poverty in Lebanon, says World Bank

More people living in poverty in Lebanon, says World Bank
A man collects goods from a garbage bin in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli on December 12, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 09 February 2020

More people living in poverty in Lebanon, says World Bank

More people living in poverty in Lebanon, says World Bank
  • “The financial crisis has exposed this monopoly system” in Lebanon’s economy, he said. “Speculation might totally erode the value of the Lebanese pound”

BEIRUT: There is an increase in the number of people living below the poverty line in Lebanon, said the director of the World Bank’s Mashreq Department, which covers Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Iran.
Saroj Kumar Jha stressed the “necessity to take into consideration the needs of poorer sections of society in any program that would be set by the Lebanese government.”
Dr. Bashir Ismat, a professor of development studies and an expert at the Social Affairs Ministry, told Arab News: “The rate of people living in poverty has increased to 40 percent, and might even reach 50 or 70 percent if the state and Lebanese banks file for bankruptcy.”

The Ministry of Social Affairs in Lebanon estimates that 20 percent of the people who suffer from extreme poverty currently live below 4 dollars a day, compared to 8 percent in 2019.
Dr. Bashir Esmat said: “This percentage is likely to increase in case the economic collapse.”
Dr. Esmat talked about a “phenomena that the Ministry of Social Affairs began to witness recently, which was not seen before, as it was monitored that young students arrived at public schools in the Bekaa region, who had not eaten for two days due to lack of food in their homes.”
Dr. Esmat said: "If this is the case of the Bekaa, then the situation in North Lebanon is much worse because extreme poverty we see in this region.”

Zuhair Berro, head of the Consumer Protection Association, told Arab News that the current crisis in Lebanon is “unprecedented, especially that prices have increased by 40 percent in the last three months.”
He expressed fears of a further deterioration in the economy, adding that even before the crisis, prices in Lebanon were already 30 percent higher than in neighboring countries.

FASTFACT

Consumer Protection Association chief Zuhair Berro fears of a further deterioration in the economy, adding that even before the crisis, prices in Lebanon were already 30 percent higher than in neighboring countries.

“The financial crisis has exposed this monopoly system” in Lebanon’s economy, he said. “Speculation might totally erode the value of the Lebanese pound.”
Ismat said: “The World Bank is negotiating with the Lebanese government to provide it with loans dedicated to social safety nets.”
Berro said “the political class doesn’t have any solution” to the crisis, adding: “The former government stepped down and left the bank owners in control of the Lebanese pound. In addition, the statement of the new government didn’t include serious solutions. We’re heading toward total chaos, and we need remedies for the causes of the crisis.”
Meanwhile, protesters returned to the streets over the weekend and organized sit-ins in front of the Interior Ministry, the Banque du Liban (Central Bank) and Riad El-Solh Square opposite Parliament and the government headquarters.

 


Dissident politician and journalist severely beaten in Ankara

Dissident politician and journalist severely beaten in Ankara
Updated 17 min 58 sec ago

Dissident politician and journalist severely beaten in Ankara

Dissident politician and journalist severely beaten in Ankara
  • Orhan Uguroglu, the Ankara representative of dissident nationalist paper Yenicag Daily, was badly beaten when he was getting into his vehicle on Friday by three people
  • The attack came just a couple of hours after Selcuk Ozdag, deputy head of the breakaway Future Party, faced a bloody attack by an armed gang in front of his house

ANKARA: A journalist and a politician were targeted by armed gangs in Ankara in broad daylight on Friday, sparking debates on the safety and security of Turkish opposition figures in the country.

Orhan Uguroglu, the Ankara representative of dissident nationalist paper Yenicag Daily, was badly beaten when he was getting into his vehicle on Friday by three people.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it condemned the aggression “in the heaviest way” and called for the politics that fueled such violence to end “before it is too late.”

The attack came just a couple of hours after Selcuk Ozdag, deputy head of the breakaway Future Party, faced a bloody attack by an armed gang in front of his house when he was heading to the nearby mosque for Friday prayers.

Ozdag is a former lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and among the founding members of the Future Party.

An outspoken critic of the Turkish government, Ozdag was recently verbally attacked by Semih Yalcin, deputy head of the ruling government’s coalition partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Yalcin accused Ozdag of being a “traitor” and “acting like a chameleon.”

During the attack, Ozdag’s driver was first attacked by a gang member, while the politician was seriously beaten with sticks and pistol butts. The attackers then ran away in a vehicle without a registration plate.

A month ago, the house of Ayhan Sefer Ustun, another politician from the same party, was attacked by an armed assailant in northwestern Sakarya province, whilst Ustun and his family were out.

Ustun is also the vice chairman of Future Party and a former AKP deputy chairman.

Founded by Turkey’s former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in 2019, the Future Party is the first breakaway political movement from the AKP that drew the ire of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The party’s electoral base is widening gradually and it appeals to the disillusioned AKP and MHP voters.

Speaking to Arab News, Ustun, who previously headed the parliamentary Human Rights Commission, said Turkey had seen enough rising polarization.

“We witnessed such violent acts many times in our recent history. The government and its coalition partner are systematically fueling this dangerous political disengagement within society. The criminal gangs are freed from jails and the mafia is flocked into the streets to beat whoever they want,” Ustun said, citing an amnesty law that was adopted last year, which led to tens of thousands of prisoners being released from Turkey’s overcrowded prisons, including organized ultra-nationalist criminal gang members. The idea of the amnesty was first raised by the MHP.

At the time, critics predicted that the law would help the gangs, who are associated with the MHP, to capture the streets, including naming one, Alaattin Cakici, who was behind bars for crimes ranging from ordering assassinations, money laundering and leading an illegal armed group.

Cakici, once freed, began threatening the leader of the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, saying, “he should watch his step.”

According to Ustun, those gangs who dare to beat people in the middle of the capital city feel themselves above the law, and similar acts are becoming more and more unaccountable under Turkish law.

“The ruling government also has a responsibility. They knowingly empowered these gangs without any accountability. We should now ask where Turkey is heading. These gangs are standing among us like hand-grenades without a pin,” he said.