Lebanon at risk of major food crisis, PM warns

Hassan Diab also warned of a global food security emergency triggered by the pandemic. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 22 May 2020

Lebanon at risk of major food crisis, PM warns

  • Imported food prices had more than doubled since the start of 2020
  • Eighty percent of Lebanon’s wheat had been coming from Ukraine and Russia

BEIRUT: Lebanon is at risk of a major food crisis and many Lebanese may soon find it hard to afford bread because of an acute financial crunch and the fall-out of COVID-19, the prime minister warned.
Writing in the Washington Post, Hassan Diab also warned of a global food security emergency triggered by the pandemic. He said attempts to restrict food exports must be resisted and called on the United States and the European Union to set up an emergency fund to help the Middle East avoid a severe crisis.
Otherwise, “starvation may spark a new migration flow to Europe and further destabilize the region,” he wrote.
Lebanon was in deep crisis even before COVID-19. The local currency has more than halved in value since October amid a hard currency liquidity shortage. Inflation and unemployment are soaring. Lebanon defaulted on its sovereign debt in March.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Imported food prices had more than doubled since the start of 2020, Diab wrote. More than half of Lebanon’s food is imported.
“Once the breadbasket of the Eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon is facing a dramatic challenge that seemed unimaginable a decade ago: the risk of a major food crisis,” Diab wrote.
“A few weeks ago, Lebanon witnessed its first ‘hunger protests.’ Many Lebanese have already stopped buying meat, fruits and vegetables, and may soon find it difficult to afford even bread.”
Diab, who took office this year with backing from the Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah and its allies, also blamed decades of political mismanagement and corruption for a lack of investment in agriculture.
COVID-19 and lockdowns had “dramatically worsened the economic crisis and profoundly disrupted the food supply chain.”
Eighty percent of Lebanon’s wheat had been coming from Ukraine and Russia, but last month, Russia suspended wheat exports, while Ukraine is considering a similar move, he said.


Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

Updated 12 August 2020

Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

  • The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention

CAIRO: The fate of at least 35 Egyptian fishermen hangs in the balance after they were arrested by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) on Nov. 2 last year.  

The families of the fishermen have appealed to the Egyptian government to step up their efforts to secure their freedom as Cairo has been working on their release since November.

Little is known about the fate of the fishermen in Libya other than their location, after it was leaked to Egyptian authorities that they were held in the Turmina Prison, which is affiliated with the GNA.

The head of the Fishermen’s Syndicate in Kafr El-Sheikh, Ahmed Nassar, said they had not been able to communicate with the fishermen since last November and after their disappearance they came to learn that the GNA authorities had detained them.

The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention. Nassar said that the fishermen were not fishing in Libyan territory without a permit.

Nassar explained that the fishermen were working on Libyan boats. Alongside them were a number of colleagues working on boats that belong to the Al-Wefaq government. They were not approached by anyone unlike their detained colleagues who were arrested and sent to prison without being charged with any crime.

The Fishermen’s Syndicate chief said that people had called on the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the government, and the consular section had also been contacted about the matter.

Many of the detained fishermen come from Kafr El-Sheikh, while others come from Abu Qir in the governorate of Alexandria.

The fishermen had been supporting families of up to eight members.

Egyptian authorities say they are exerting great efforts to bring the fishermen back safely, while the fishermen’s families continue to demand safety and justice for the men.