"...Many Lebanese have already stopped buying meat, fruits and vegetables, and may soon find it difficult to afford even bread," PM Hassan Diab
May 22, 2020
(See Translation in Arabic section)
Lebanon's financial meltdown could tip the country into a full-blown food crisis, as people hit by soaring prices and the fallout of COVID-19 become unable to afford even basics like bread, the prime minister has warned.
Lebanon has been paralysed by an economic crisis that has caused the supply of US dollars to dry up, banks impose tight capital controls, unemployment surge, and a sovereign debt default in March - all before the compounding blow of the coronavirus outbreak.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the pandemic could trigger a global food security emergency that would put vulnerable countries like Lebanon at particular risk.
"Once the breadbasket of the eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon is facing a dramatic challenge that seemed unimaginable a decade ago: the risk of a major food crisis," he wrote in the Washington Post.
He said attempts by some countries to restrict food exports must be resisted and called on the United States and European Union to set up an emergency fund to help the Middle East avoid a humanitarian disaster.
"Starvation may spark a new migration flow to Europe and further destabilise the (Middle Eastern) region," he added.
"A few weeks ago, Lebanon witnessed its first 'hunger protests'. Many Lebanese have already stopped buying meat, fruits and vegetables, and may soon find it difficult to afford even bread," Diab wrote.