Russian invasion of Ukraine exacerbates hunger problem in Lebanon Politics and Economics In-depth analysis with a broader perspective from DW | DW

At the “Kitchen of All” in Beirut, Lebanese women gather to help prepare and prepare food for those in need during Ramadan. They prepare and cook food after receiving produce from farmers on the outskirts of the city. Hundreds of diets already packed and ready for delivery. It is for people in need, who without this help would not be able to eat breakfast.

German Development Minister Svenja Schulze, who went to Lebanon and then to Ethiopia, wanted to see the progress of German-backed development projects as a charitable project to break the fast and distribute food to the needy, to which she also contributes. Germany. financing. This is exactly what Schulze envisages for sustainable assistance: that food is prepared using food products from the same region and that unskilled women have the opportunity to work and train, and that they can feed their families as well. Meanwhile, these diets help people who need them most.

The “Kitchen for All” is located in the neighborhood severely damaged by the eruption of Beirut Harbor in August 2020. The concrete rubble of the former mansions remains with the missing window panels and entire walls and facades still destroyed. According to the German minister, she is now “seeing a growing number of ordinary people who can no longer buy and meet their basic food needs”. Therefore, the minister promised to support the World Food Program in Lebanon through additional assistance worth ten million euros.

The food problem and high prices in Lebanon are also linked to the Russian war against Ukraine. “With this war, Putin is also waging a battle to spread hunger,” Schulze said. “Food prices are rising because Ukraine is no longer able to supply food,” she told DW.

Lebanon is in a situation of serious dependence on the conditions of the Russian war. According to UNICEF, Lebanon receives 80 percent of its grain from Russia and Ukraine. Meanwhile, food prices in the world market are rising. Due to the destroyed barns in the port, the country also lacks storage capacity.

Multiple crises at once

There, in the harbor, still stand the ruins of the barns that were destroyed by the blast. It is a symbol of the catastrophic situation across the country: “In less than two years, Lebanon faced four major crises in a row, namely the economic and financial crisis in 2019, the Corona pandemic, the explosion of the port of Beirut, and more “Finally the war in Ukraine.” All these problems are now coming together to create a major and dangerous crisis for the citizens there, according to Lebanese expert Sami Nader, director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Issues (LISA).

According to the German minister, in order to avoid more hunger crises there, in addition to providing short-term aid, long-term solutions must be found. “It is imperative that the Lebanese government help to ensure that more crops used as food are grown, so that there is no such dependence (from outside) and so that the Lebanese people can support themselves. “

The minister hopes the new Lebanese government will address the issue. Where elections will be held in Lebanon for about three weeks. But expectations in this regard remain bleak. “Here the situation is not stable and it is not easy to move forward with political reforms. But this is very necessary, we can not help permanently, there must be a commitment from the Lebanese government,” said the minister. .

Reliance on outside help

Lebanon was once considered the “Switzerland of the Middle East” because of its wealth. Now 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. “Lebanese purchasing power is declining day by day. In addition, the Lebanese pound has lost 90% of its value against the US dollar,” expert Sami Nader explains to DW. “What makes the situation worse is the fact that there is no light on the horizon and there is no clear solution.”

The country now hopes to get a rescue loan from the International Monetary Fund. Lebanon is supposed to receive $ 3 billion, provided the Lebanese government implements sweeping reforms. But Lebanese expert Sami Nader does not believe in this. He explains, “This is just ink on paper. The Lebanese government has submitted a draft financial reconstruction plan to the International Monetary Fund so that it can start funding. But is the government able to implement this plan? The answer is no.”

Ute Clammert, Associate Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program, explains to DW the importance of supporting Lebanese citizens. Aid organizations have repeatedly called for support for the Lebanese government, saying: “For us, the World Food Program, it is very important that solutions are negotiated and supported by political will. Otherwise, there will be one trial after another.”

Avoid corruption until help arrives

But Lebanese, who have suffered for years because of corruption, often do not trust the government. In the past, citizens have found that aid money ends up with the wrong people.

In return, the World Food Program is trying to ensure that aid reaches those in need and to prevent the flow of aid money, the World Food Program has created a new program in Lebanon: distributes “checks” used as electronic food stamps. allowing those affected to shop in more than 400 grocery stores. This model can be an example: money and food reach 100 percent for those who really need it.

These conditions also apply to the Lebanese reindeer, Lynn, who continues to prepare and package food in “Everyone’s Kitchen” and says that what she earns here helps her parents and brother. Lynn is 23 years old and has just finished her studies. She dreams of completing her studies, but until then, a lot needs to change, in Lebanon and in other parts of the world.

Katrina Kroll / AJ

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