Lebanon crisis

Days ahead of legislative elections, UN urges crisis-hit Lebanon to ‘change course’

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Lebanon’s government and central bank are responsible for an unprecedented financial crisis that has impoverished the majority of the population, the UN said Wednesday.

The report, drafted by the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said that the crisis was “manufactured” by failed government policies and it urged the country to “change course,” days ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for May 15.

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Since 2019, Lebanon’s currency has lost more than 90 per cent of its value against the dollar, prices have risen by more than 200 percent and the poverty rate has shot beyond 80 percent of the population.

“The misery inflicted on the population can be reversed with leadership that places social justice, transparency and accountability at the core of its actions,” the report contended.

Special rapporteur Olivier De Schutter visited the country in November last year to assess the impact of the economic crisis.

Nine in 10 people are finding it difficult to get by on their income and more than six in 10 would move abroad if they could, the report said.

“The economic crisis was entirely avoidable; indeed, it was manufactured by failed government policies,” the report said.

It accused the central bank of an “accounting sleight of hand regarding its losses.... that covertly created a massive public debt... which will condemn the Lebanese for generations.”

The UN report comes as Lebanon readies for parliamentary elections on May 15, the first since the onset of the crisis.

While independent candidates are expected to improve slightly on their 2018 showing, experts believe the elections will largely consolidate the status quo in a country beholden to sectarian politics.

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