BEIRUT: Lebanese youth and families want to emigrate from the country as they have lost hope in their homeland, according to Labora, an NGO working since 2008 on problems facing the Christian community.
“This is a new phenomenon where 7 out of 10 people we are contacting, including youth and families, say they want to emigrate from Lebanon because they have lost hope in their homeland,” Tony Khadra, the head of Labora, told Arab News.
This phenomenon was also the focus of a sermon delivered by the Curial Bishop of the Maronite Patriarchate Archbishop Paul Abdel Sater on Sunday, which resonated widely with Lebanese people.
Sater warned Lebanese officials, saying: “Thousands of our youths are lining up in front of embassies, in an attempt to leave the country as soon as possible.”
Sater said that what is happening “must be an ultimatum to stop the heads of political parties, deputies and ministers, from tossing around charges and responsibilities, as well as attempting to achieve frail political and additional gains, and to start seriously and cleanly cooperating together, in order to save our country from an economic collapse and a social ruin.”
Lebanon is facing a serious political and economic crisis. President Michel Aoun summarized the gravity of the crisis before the Maronite League in January, saying that: “Lebanon has neither production nor money after relying on a rent-based economy for years.”
The country’s politicians are concerned about the state’s incapacity to pay its debts, which are due in the coming weeks, and that the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab will not be able to launch the required reforms to acquire the international economic support that Lebanon needs, especially since the US administration considers it to be “Hezbollah’s government.”
Khadra said: “36,000 students graduate yearly from universities in Lebanon and fail to find jobs. The unemployment crisis is not confined to one religion or another, but rather affects young people from all religions.”
There is information that is being circulated among youth that the Canadian Embassy is reopening the door of immigration, especially for Christians. However, Ambassador of Canada to Lebanon Emmanuelle Lamoureux denied what is being said about Canada adopting a special program for the emigration of Christians from Lebanon, stressing that: “Canada has not changed its policy regarding immigration.”
The head of the Lebanese Land Movement, Talal Douaihy, claimed last November that: “The employees of the Canadian Embassy are contacting a certain group of those who have submitted immigration applications more than a year ago, and this group is the Christians.”
Information International counted during the first three months of 2019 around 4,700 Lebanese citizens, the majority of whom are under the age of 40, leaving the country without declaring their intention to return.
Activist lawyer Antoine Nasrallah told Arab News about the “frightening numbers of emigration” from Lebanon. He said: “I know doctors and human rights activists who have made the decision to emigrate from Lebanon to Europe and Canada while those who have relatives in Australia decided to join them.
“The most dangerous thing about this is that some of these people are wealthy and they decided to withdraw their money from Lebanon and invest it abroad. It should be noted that one of the vital arteries that kept the heart of Lebanon beating is the money of workers abroad that was transferred to their families back home.”
Nasrallah said: “There is a real concern among people of all religions that the country no longer preserves their dignity, does not provide them with a decent living, and in return, the government is not taking any steps to restore hope to the people.”
We fear that we will be turning into an old population, yet the most dangerous thing is that those who are emigrating from Lebanon are the ones who believe in the concept of a republic, while those who remain don’t,” he added.