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World Bank Says Poverty is on the Rise in Lebanon

World Bank Says Poverty is on the Rise in Lebanon

Wednesday, 1 December, 2021 - 10:30
Taxi drivers block a road with their vehicles during a protest against the increasing prices of gasoline, consumer goods and the crash of the local currency, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

A World Bank report has said that in 2021 the number of poor Lebanese is expected to have increased by 1.5 million over baseline, and by 780,000 Syrian refugees.

At the international poverty line, the increase in poverty is found to be around 13 percentage points from baseline by the end of 2020, and 28 percentage points by end of 2021 for the Lebanese population.

For Syrian refugees, the increase is estimated at around 39 percentage points by end of last year, and 52 percentage points from baseline by end of 2021.

The World Bank data is consistent with the latest assessment conducted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which concluded that the poverty rate in Lebanon doubled from 42 percent in 2019 to 82 percent of the total population in 2021.

According to the agency, nearly 4 million people live in multidimensional poverty, representing about one million households, of whom 77 percent are Lebanese.

The rise in poverty rates is proportional to the aggravation of inflation rates and the erosion of the purchasing power, as the price index, according to the Central Statistics Department, recorded an annual increase of 173.57 percent until the end of October.

The international institutions, which are closely following the exacerbation of the crises in Lebanon for the third year in a row, fear severe collapses caused by hyperinflation, which is further driven by the lifting of government subsidies and the continued devaluation of the local currency against the dollar.

This was confirmed by UNICEF field surveys, which showed that 8 out of 10 people in Lebanon live in poverty, 34% of whom are in extreme poverty.

Lebanon is also witnessing an unprecedented deterioration in the health care system, as hospitals suffer from a shortage of fuel, which leads to frequent power cuts, and a shortage of basic materials.

Prices of medications have also seen a significant increase after the government subsidy was restructured and reduced. This has made a large number of families unable to afford health care.

In this context, the report pointed out that while donor agencies, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Program, increased their assistance to refugees, this aid remained incommensurate with the deterioration of the value of the lira.

With the absence of reliable information on the poor, the World Bank does not expect recovery to take place imminently, but it stresses, on the other hand, that radical reforms and social protection programs help a lot in alleviating the impact of multiple crises.

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