Protesters set banks on fire in Lebanon's Tripoli

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Protests in Lebanon’s Tripoli kicked off again on Tuesday after the funeral of a demonstrator who died as a result of injuries sustained from security forces in last night’s protests.

Banks were largely the target of the new round of protests in Lebanon’s second largest city.

The Lebanese Army quickly arrived on the scene, and there have been unconfirmed reports of rubber bullets being fired at protesters, with civilians throwing rocks at security forces in turn.

Following attacks on several banks, the Lebanese Banking Association on Tuesday said that banks in Tripoli would remain closed until security was restored.

Banks have been the target of protesters ire for months, as many are frustrated with rapidly rising inflation and a series of ad hoc capital controls that has made it difficult or impossible to access funds within the banking system.

As economic conditions continue to worsen across the country and hunger grows in certain pockets, protesters have demonstrated over the last week in Tripoli, where over half of the population fell below the poverty line at the end of 2019.

Now, that rate is likely higher where the economy continues to worsen and lockdowns to stem the spread of coronavirus have put more people out of work.

Yesterday marked the first day that Lebanon will gradually start to reopen from lockdown in a five-phase process.

A typical blue-collar worker’s wage of 600,000 Lebanese lira a month, worth $400 at the official exchange rate, is now worth less than $200 at the black-market rate, while the prices of goods have continued to increase.

When mass protests began in October 2019, Tripoli was dubbed the “bride” of Lebanon’s anti-establishment revolution and the momentum withheld longer in Tripoli than it did in other areas around the country.

Now, Tripoli has re-emerged as a protest center as it is one of the cities to most acutely feel the effects of a quickly deteriorating economy.

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