According to the UN, Lebanon’s water system is on the verge of total collapse


More than 71% of the country’s population – over 4 million people, including 1 million refugees – are at immediate risk of losing access to clean water, UNICEF said on Friday.

According to the UN agency, water pumping is expected to be phased out across the country over the next four to six weeks due to shortages of finance, fuel and other supplies such as chlorine and spare parts. The rampant fuel shortage in recent weeks has brought large parts of the Lebanese economy to a standstill.

“Loss of access to public water could force households to make extremely difficult decisions about their basic water, sanitation and hygiene needs,” said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF representative in Lebanon.

Lebanon is in a financial and political crisis, which the World Bank describes as one of the three worst economic disasters since the middle of the 19th century. GDP per capita has shrunk by around 40% and more than 50% of the population is likely to have slipped below the poverty line.

“Such a brutal and rapid decline is usually associated with conflict or war,” the World Bank said in its June 2021 report. In autumn 2020, the World Bank described the financial crisis in Lebanon as an “intentional depression” – the first time the group had denounced Term used to describe a crisis and a blow to a ruling elite that has done little to contain the financial downturn.

Lebanon has been without a government for almost a year. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri last week gave up his offer to head a rescue administration, almost nine months after being tasked with forming a new cabinet.

The move propelled Lebanon into deeper uncertainty, causing its plummeting currency to plummet further in a sharp 24-hour decline.

The European Union has threatened the country’s sectarian leadership with sanctions for failing to break its political stalemate, a conflict between Hariri and his arch-rival President Michel Aoun. Earlier this month, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters that he plans to put in place a legal framework for legal sanctions by the end of July.

The health sector in Lebanon, which is affected by the consequences of a deadly second wave of Covid, was also dealt a blow by the rapid deterioration in infrastructure. Hospitals have repeatedly warned of the threat of power outages as they address the rampant shortages of medicines, baby milk and basic food products in recent months.

The country’s currency has been in free fall since a popular uprising against Lebanon’s ruling elite in October 2019 and has lost more than 95% of its value in less than two years.

In less than two weeks, Lebanon will have been a year since a huge explosion in the port of Beirut, largely attributed to government neglect, devastated the capital, killing more than 200 people and injuring thousands.


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