Life in Lebanon these days, where a 21-month-long, government-engineered economic implosion — the World Bank calls it “a deliberate depression” — has transformed everyday tasks into a gantlet of fuel, power, water, medicine and basic goods shortages that residents dub tawabeer al-thul, or “queues of humiliation.”
Behind Lebanon’s financial crisis is a power-sharing political system that in 1990 corralled the country’s dizzying mix of sects and loyalties into ending the 15-year civil war.
The international community spoke vaguely of corruption but continued to pour aid into Lebanon with little regard for how it was spent.
About 90% of Lebanon’s needs are supplied from abroad — grain, medicine, baby clothes, sanitary pads, spare parts for machinery — which the country, and its people, increasingly can’t afford. The price of food and beverages has shot up 670% between April 2019 and April 2021, and more than half of Lebanese have fallen into poverty, with 1 in 6 receiving assistance