Lebanon risks becoming a republic of NGOs: UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty

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There is a crisis of trust in the Lebanese government’s ability to respond to the needs of the population and that the country risks becoming a “republic of NGOs,” the UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty warned.

“There is what I call a crisis of trust in the government’s ability to respond to the needs of the population. Many people I spoke to feel abandoned, they feel disenchanted, they have lost faith in the willingness and ability of the government to provide solutions, and I am concerned that many answers that today are being provided by Lebanon are not structural in nature, they are not long-term answers to the country’s problems, they are short term humanitarian answers and Lebanon unfortunately risks becoming a republic of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) with humanitarian actors,” UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty Olivier De Schutter told Al Arabiya’s Talal Alhaj.

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The fallout from Lebanon’s financial collapse in 2019 has left swathes of the nation in poverty and foreign donors are demanding an audit of the central bank and financial reforms before they release funds.

UN agencies have warned of social catastrophes, with one report saying that more than half of families in Lebanon had at least one child who skipped a meal amid a dramatic deterioration of living conditions.

“The situation is worse even for some groups of the population of Lebanon, not least the refugees, but all the population has been affected in Lebanon by the financial and economic crisis. Therefore yes in the short term we need humanitarian support, there is no choice but for the world food program, for UNRWA and UNHCR, for UNICEF and others to intervene in the country to support the population,” De Schutter said.

The seemingly never-ending crisis has sunk Lebanon’s currency by more than 90 percent, caused poverty to skyrocket, and led many Lebanese to emigrate.

Mikati’s government was finally formed after a year of political conflict over cabinet seats that only worsened the crisis.

In August, on the first anniversary of the huge chemical blast at Beirut port that killed 200 people and caused billions of dollars of damage, Francis promised to visit Lebanon as soon as the situation permitted.

- With inputs from Reuters.

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