Lebanon Daily News Brief 03/14/2022
Lebanese Judge Freezes Assets of Five Banks
Lebanese judge Ghada Aoun issued freezes on the assets of five top banks, which applies to the members of their boards, while she investigates their transactions with the country’s central bank. According to Reuters, “the asset freeze against Bank of Beirut, Bank Audi, SGBL, Blom Bank and Bankmed applies to properties, vehicles and shares in companies owned by the banks or the members of their boards.” [Reuters]
Six Opposition Groups Convene In Burj Hammoud For Legislative Elections
Six Lebanese opposition parties and collectives held a joint meeting Saturday in Burj Hammoud preceding tomorrow’s March 15th deadline for candidacy filing. LBCI journalist Yazbeck Wehbé who moderated the meeting that was attended by the National Bloc, Minteshreen, Liqaa Tishreen, Taqaddom, the October 17 Plenary Assembly and Khat Ahmar. [L’Orient Today]
World-Bank Funded Cash Assistance To Begin Payments This Week
According to L’Orient Today, “Social Affairs Minister Hector Hajjar announced Monday that cash from the long-awaited Emergency Social Safety Net program for the poorest families in Lebanon, which is funded by the World Bank, will be paid out to beneficiaries starting this week.” [L’Orient Today]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
Can The Lebanese Feed Themselves? Ask USAID.
AbiNader writes, “According to the US Agency for International Development (USAID), “Lebanon has the highest proportion of cultivable land, per capita, in the Arab world. Approximately 60% of citizens outside greater Beirut rely on agriculture—directly or indirectly—and related industries for some form of household income; yet, the Lebanese agribusiness sector is underutilized. Food insecurity is also a problem.” With poverty now afflicting more than 70% of the population, initiatives to restart the agricultural sector are increasingly being funded by international donors. USAID alone has several types of programs focused on improving agricultural production, marketing, and export . . . The agricultural community is cooperative but there are many steps involved in the export of agricultural products, from strengthening “food safety by upgrading food testing laboratories to comply with export market food standards, to making agribusiness more efficient and demand driven,” hopefully both increasing income generation and attracting new entrants into the sector.”
Lebanon Is Running Out Of Time To Avert Starvation
Tanchum writes, “Even if Lebanon can secure consignments of wheat from other major suppliers, the increased shipping times due to longer ocean routes mean that new wheat supplies might not arrive before the clock runs out. While wheat loaded at Ukraine’s ports can reach Lebanon within seven days, shipments from more distant suppliers could take two to four times longer. The economy ministry is exploring the possibility of replacing Ukraine’s wheat with supplies from the US, Canada and India, but the shipping time from North America is about 25 days and that from the subcontinent is 14 days. In the event that Lebanon could purchase those alternative consignments, it is unclear how the country could pay for the added shipping costs and the higher prices.”
Lebanese Youths Abandon Education As Crisis Bites
Bassam and Lewis write, “Once a young person drops out of school at the age of 13, 14, 15, it’s really difficult to get them back into school, and so they enter into a very precarious job market with a serious lack of education and skills,’ said Alexandre Schein, head of UNICEF’s youth section in Lebanon. ‘The implications are that the skills that are required to rebuild Lebanon and get it out of the crisis won’t exist in the country.’ U.N. and government data also shows a drop in spending on education and in school enrolment for children under 15, as well as a rise in child labour. Some families have shifted from private to state schools, but those struggled to provide distance learning when the pandemic broke out and were hit by stoppages and strikes over teachers’ low wages after reopening. Many school and university teaching staff have left their jobs or the country, joining an accelerating brain drain.”
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.