As the financial and economic situation in Lebanon deteriorates day by day, and challenges facing various economic sectors persist; the country is becoming more vulnerable to internal collapse. The scope of this disaster is evident to those observing the numbers: Youth unemployment stands at 40% and quickly rising towards 50%, 1 to 2 million Lebanese will be living under the poverty line, 785 cafes and restaurants have closed down between Sep 2019 and Feb 2020, and 25 thousand employees in the hospitality sector have lost their jobs. In Saida, 120 establishments have shut down, jewelers have moved their merchandise from malls to more secure locations, and some have even recalled items to parent companies abroad. Dozens of faltering institutions are paying reduced salaries—less than 50% in some instances. All bank accounts are subject to unofficial capital controls with “haircuts” becoming a strong possibility.
Faced with these figures, the IMF delegation does not offer much hope for Lebanon in terms of solving these chronic issues that have been exacerbated recently. Repercussions are continuing to unfold day by day, and are confirmed by alarming figures. The upcoming social catastrophe is one that Lebanon has not experienced even during the wars, invasions, and occupations that greatly exhausted the country’s economy.
On this matter, former Minister of Social Affairs Richard Kyomijian confirmed that: “2 million Lebanese will be living under the poverty line in 2020, if the government does not prioritize social welfare. The decline in social conditions of the Lebanese people has reached unprecedented levels. Lebanon has never witnessed such levels of poverty before”. Kyomijian expressed great concerns that poverty effect 50% of the population; knowing that World Bank data estimated the figure at 32% and youth unemployment at 38% in 2018.
As a result, immigration has become a haven for Lebanese youth. According to “Information International”, the number of Lebanese who left the country and did not return between January and November of 2019 grew to 61,924 compared to 41,766 during the same period in 2018. This corresponds to a 42% increase in immigration. Additionally, researcher Mohamad Chamseddine told Al-Nahar that 82% of those who left are under the age of 40.