August 2, 2021

record depreciation of the currency, clashes in two large cities

Angry protesters in Lebanon tried to storm Central Bank branches in two major cities in Lebanon on Saturday evening, June 26, the national news agency ANI reported after another record depreciation of the national currency on the black market.

On Saturday afternoon, two money changers interviewed by Agence France-Presse (AFP) indicated that the dollar was trading at 17,500 Lebanese pounds on the black market, a third citing the figure of 17,300 pounds. On social networks, some users have mentioned the threshold of 18,000 pounds.

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In Tripoli (north), dozens of demonstrators marched to denounce the depreciation and “Difficult living conditions”, according to ANI. Protesters were able “Tear off the iron gate of a Bank of Lebanon branch and enter the outer courtyard”, more “The army prevented them” to reach the building, according to the same source.

They also set fire to the portal of the Serail, the seat of the northern governorate, according to an AFP correspondent, while protesters gathered in front of the homes of two deputies and tried in vain to force their way through, despite the presence of guards. “When the demonstrators arrived in front of the home of MP Mohamed Kabbara, gunshots were heard, causing a stampede, the army intervened to (…) keep protesters away ”, according to the ANI agency.

In Saïda (south), demonstrators also tried to storm an agency of the Banque du Liban before being pushed back by the police, according to ANI.

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One of the worst global crises since 1850

Since the onset of the crisis in the fall of 2019, one of the worst in the world since 1850 according to the World Bank, the Lebanese pound has collapsed against the greenback. Barely ten days ago, it hit an all-time low, approaching 15,500 pounds to the dollar. The official rate, observed for more than two decades, is still set at 1,507 pounds to the dollar.

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The crisis is currently accompanied by a shortage of fuel which causes endless lines in front of gas stations. The country is experiencing an explosion in unemployment and inflation, which have accelerated large-scale impoverishment, with half of the population now living below the poverty line, according to the UN.

As the country commemorates August 4, the first anniversary of the explosion at the port of Beirut that killed more than 200 people, a new government that has been expected for months has still not been formed.

The World with AFP