This Week In Lebanon: 4/2/2021

Friday, April 2, 2021

April 2, 2021
Parliament Approves $200m Loan for Fuel
Schenker Pushes for French Sanctions
Save the Children Releases Report on Education
Acute Hunger Expected to Rise

Lebanon’s Parliament Approves $200 Million Loan for Fuel
Shortly after Lebanon’s Zahrani power plant shut down when it ran out of gas oil, parliament approved a $200 million loan for fuel imports on Monday in order to keep the power on throughout the country. Funding for fuel was scheduled to run out at the end of March. This loan will keep fuel imports flowing for another two months. [Reuters]


“The approval by the Lebanese parliament of $200M to provide fuel for the Zahrani power plant and others in order to buy fuel to keep the lights on for its Lebanese citizens is a shame. There is no need for such government expense. Countries world-wide have established independent regulatory commissions to regulate the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. This has resulted in private companies bidding on, building, and supplying reliable electricity at no cost to the government. In fact, governments charge the independent power producers for their licenses which adds revenue to government budgets rather than draining them. Not so in Lebanon; however, where the government continues to finance fuel supplies to supply only a few hours of electricity to its citizens.”
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Schenker Pushes for French Sanctions on Lebanese Leaders
On Wednesday, former US Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker urged Lebanon’s political leaders to form a government, adding that the French threat to sanction leaders has yet to be carried out. He said sanctions could push government officials to form a government and make the necessary reforms to lift Lebanon out of its crises. [Naharnet]


“Former Assistant Secretary David Schenker believes it’s time for France to impose sanctions on specific Lebanese leaders for corruption, human rights violations, and terrorism. Lebanon is faced with an impending collapse if its current leaders do not step aside. These same leaders have more assets tied up in Europe than they do in the US. The US needs to lead with France and its allies on a final firm and aggressive diplomatic approach with Lebanon, including the threat of sanctions to those who have broken international laws and refuse to step aside, and to demand a government empowered to implement reforms that address the needs of the Lebanese people.”
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Save the Children Report on Education in Lebanon
On Thursday, Save the Children released a report on the status of children’s education in Lebanon. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, over 1.2 million children have been out of school. While the country is in the midst of a deteriorating economic situation, many families are unable to purchase the learning equipment required to complete kids’ schooling from home. There is a concern that many children will not return to school and will be relied on to provide an income for their families. [Al Jazeera]


“Lebanon has always prided itself on its educational and medical sectors generating human resources respected globally. Both are now depleted and deteriorating because of the multiple crises dragging the country down. Without investments in ALL the children, regardless of economic status, affiliation, or gender, Lebanon will never recovery its once vaunted role as a resource to the region in terms of the quality and qualifications of its people.”
-ATFL Policy Director Jean AbiNader

Acute Hunger Expected to Rise in Lebanon
Last week the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program included Lebanon in a warning that acute huger will rise steeply. A representative said Lebanon was included because of its rapid rise in food insecurity and increase in poverty as the Lebanese pound value plummets. [UPI]


“Let’s not forget that what’s going on in Lebanon has one undeniable outcome – dehumanizing the Lebanese people. They are being ground into the poverty through no fault of their own, and sadly their desperation is abetted by their elected leaders. Some of the oligarchs are showing an awareness of the acute crisis though we’re still waiting for actions that will bring relief and regrowth. Time to act as if the people matter.”
-ATFL Policy Director Jean AbiNader

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed 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.