|The heavy burden that grows even heavier|
EDITORIAL: The heavy burden that grows even heavier
The world has a problem. And that problem lies within the refugee camps of Lebanon.
Consider this: The Lebanese government estimated there were 1.5 million Syrian refugees, not to mention close to 300,000 Palestinian refugees.
Massive economic woes as symbolised by the destruction of Beirut Port two years ago, ongoing political instability, grain shortages and additional insecurity problems caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the costs of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Economists estimate that the Syrian displacement has cost Lebanon, a small country, $22 billion over the 11 years of the conflict and as much as $46.5 billion to the Cedar economy.
That is a mind-numbing figure for such a small country of 6.7 million people (taking in refugees as well).
Like a car about to drive into a wall, Lebanon can no longer continue on its present course. A fractious political leadership is attempting to tell a world that more needs to be done. A great deal more. And its voice is being drowned out.
The risks to the region, outside Syria, cannot be overstated. Much like COVID-19, political instability is spreading like a virus. And much like COVID, no-one is immune regardless of their proximity.
A national consensus is needed now. The warring sects must be made to understand that the very existence of the prize they so covet, Lebanon, is under threat from internal and external forces.
National willpower needs to be found. Everyone MUST come together to speak with one voice or risk Lebanon’s voice falling silent on the international stage.
And international action will be needed if a solution to the Syrian crisis is to be found. The unthinkable may need to be considered: military intervention.
This is because the UN is distracted by the increasingly reckless behaviour of the world’s so-called superpowers: Russia (aggressive), China (bullying) and the US (indifferent). And that is without even considering the threats posed by the pandemic and, even more, climate change.
And even Lebanon, amid all its own chaos, needs to be wary of the conflict to its north, in eastern Europe. A nuclear disaster arising from the Ukrainian conflict is not what any country needs, never mind Lebanon.
So many threats to consider. What Lebanon absolutely cannot afford is for the different sects to continue to pursue their own interests. That must stop. Now. There is too much at stake.
Editor in Chief