Citizens of Beirut rallied against corruption and restrictions on bank-account withdrawals amid the country’s economic crisis. The protesters decry the government’s lack of action due to alleged corruption as Lebanon witnesses the worst economic collapse in its history.
Desperate times drive people to desperate measures. A Lebanese man made international headlines after holding 10 people hostage in a seven-hour standoff with authorities before surrendering. This man was not attempting to steal from the bank and had no intention of harming anyone. He is a victim of Lebanon’s economic catastrophe, and this is a very sad story of what can happen when banks fail.
Lebanese banks have placed harsh limits on withdrawals since 2019. The man, who entered the bank with a gun and gasoline, was pleading for $35,000 of his own money in order to pay for his father’s healthcare.
The Lebanese lira declined by over 90% against the USD. The country’s GDP fell to $20.5 billion in 2021, and real GDP per capita declined 37.1%. The World Bank deemed the crisis a “deliberate depression” that was “manifested by a collapse of the most basic public services; persistent and debilitating internal political discord; and mass brain drain.” Inflation in Lebanon reached 210.08% in June, and the lira is utterly worthless. Food prices have spiked 332.35%, transportation 462.4%, and housing by 132.38%.
Billionaire Prime Minister Najib Mikati, one of the richest men in the Arab world, has done nothing to help the people. Time has run out for Lebanon, and the people need a complete political transformation to regain any quality of life.