LEBANON’S DEEPENING CRISIS IS IN FREE-FALL

By Vincent Lyn

BEIRUT once called the “Paris of the Middle East” the boardwalk a beautiful spot overlooking the Mediterranean Sea — With everything going on I try to keep smiling

The world is in a Perfect Storm having been first ravaged by COVID-19 for more than two years killing approximately ten million people worldwide. Climate change and our race against time with unending catastrophic natural disasters, though there’s nothing natural about fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tornadoes. All of this causes a domino effect of economic hardship across the globe. No country has been spared from rich first world nations to especially poor nations. On top of that, if it couldn’t get any worse and we should all realize by now it can always get worse. The war in Europe with Russia and Ukraine slowly but surely rippled into neighboring countries with a mass exodus of 2 million refugees and many more to come. The insane rhetoric of looming WW3?

Though from my perspective this past month being in Syria and now Lebanon people have already been living in survival mode. Syrians have dealt with war for the past 12 years and COVID on top of that and the ripple effect from neighboring Lebanon and their debilitating economic crisis.

Today Monday March 7th here in Beirut gas prices hit a staggering $20 a gallon, all attributed to the crippling economic crisis. To my friends in America, U.K, Germany, etc; I want you to imagine, though you really cannot. But try for a moment if you can. Tomorrow you wake up, go to the bank and no longer can withdraw any money from your bank accounts. Basically the banking system has completely collapsed, all your hard earned money whether it was $100 or $1,000,000 dollars you no longer have access to it. ZILCH! On top of that you turn on your bathroom light, your stove, your TV and also zilch. In fact you will only get up to three hours of electricity per day and if you’re in a poor neighborhood or refugee camp 30 minutes per day. Yet you’re still being charged for the electric bill. If you are fortunate enough to afford a generator you will need to buy the gasoline for it which is out of sight, and if not, maybe you can use a car battery like many families to have a taste of electricity. Oh, I forgot the best part is that your currency is now worth 90% less than it was. What was once worth $10 is now costing you $100.

I was last here October, 2019 and the day I arrived the Revolution began in Lebanon. Within weeks the banking system collapsed, then the local currency went into free-fall. Gradually, with the country on the verge of bankruptcy the power grid was next and nine months ago the lights went out. If you’re lucky there might be three hours a day so driving without traffic lights or any signals in the capital city of Beirut population 2.5 million is an enduring game of cat and mouse yielding to oncoming traffic and yet having to be aggressive otherwise you’d never get anyplace. Talk about stress and that’s only the driving experience.

Human beings can adapt to any situation if there is no option. Look at Syria and now Ukraine. War is on their door-step. You adapt and try your damndest to survive or die trying. But not all human beings are made that way. It is “Darwin’s Law” (Darwin’s law of natural selection implies that a population in equilibrium with its environment under natural selection will have a phenotype which maximizes fitness locally).

I’ve visited many war-torn and high-risk countries. Syria, Libya, Iraq, South Sudan, Nigeria, Lebanon, and I notice the resilience of the human-spirit is so dynamic, yet at the same token many people’s spirits here have been broken. Ninety percent of the young generation I’ve spoken to given the opportunity want to leave Lebanon, especially the educated university graduates. A few have a way out because extended family are living in Germany and other European nations. I attended a conference for Syrian and Palestinian refugee youth many with masters degrees in law, engineering, computer programming, etc; and they are not allowed to work because of their refugee status. Instead they volunteer at higher education levels than their bosses. With no future in sight it only makes sense that they would want to leave and start a new future. It’s why my family left England for the U.S in the early 1970’s because of the dire economic situation that plagued the U.K. It’s a double edge sword, a deepening crisis and divide with a whole generation wanting so desperately to leave and at the same time creating an enormous vacuum without young people to lead the country. Lebanon was once called Switzerland and the capital city Beirut the Paris of the Middle East, but could now be classified as a failed state. Sadly this has become the fate of Lebanon.

When I look at Syria, the destruction of a once beautiful majestic country and now Lebanon it will take fifty years to rebuild it and that’s only if wealthy countries invest billions of dollars to rebuild the infrastructure again. But in my estimation nobody cares a damn. What a scary prospect for the children now in kindergarten to think by the time they’re grandparents they possibly might see light at the end of the tunnel and that’s being very optimistic. Of course some of you might believe in divine intervention and maybe because of the all-powerful faith both the Syrian and Lebanese people possess they will survive. My prayers go out to them for better days ahead. Inshallah.

Vincent Lyn

CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children

Director of Creative Development at African Views Organization

Economic & Social Council at United Nations

Middle East Correspondent at Wall Street News Agency

Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts

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Vincent Lyn

Vincent Lyn

CEO-We Can Save Children. Director Creative Development-African Views Organization, ECOSOC at United Nations. International Human Rights Commission (IHRC)