Lebanon's crisis will 'resonate across the region,' says prime minister

Linking financial aid to the formation of a government threatens the nation's stability, says outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab

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Lebanon’s departing prime minister, Hassan Diab, said the economic crisis overwhelming the nation, home to more than 1.5 million refugees, would spill beyond its borders if the international community fails to provide financial support.

“When the big crash occurs, its repercussions will resonate beyond Lebanon’s territory in the short and the long term, both on land and at sea,” said Mr Diab.

The international community, which has wanted a new Lebanese Cabinet since Mr Diab’s resignation in August following the Beirut blast, said financial support is conditional on the implementation of radical reforms to tackle rampant corruption. Such linkage poses a threat to the nation's stability, Mr Diab said.

Gas shortage in Lebanon fuelling unrest

Gas shortage in Lebanon fuelling unrest

“With close to 1.5 million Syrian migrants and hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees [residing in Lebanon], it will be difficult to predict the consequences of instability in Lebanon,” Mr Diab told diplomats.

He said the lack of financial aid to cope with the deepening crisis, which the World Bank has ranked among the worst since the mid-19th century, would fuel chaos and extremism.

“The world cannot punish the Lebanese or turn its back on Lebanon because pursuing this policy will inevitably lead to serious repercussions,” he said.

The crisis has plunged over half the population into poverty. The currency has lost more than 95 per cent of its value since the crisis unfolded in late 2019.

Still, Lebanon remains without a government 11 months after the blast that killed more than 200 people and destroyed thousands of properties in the capital.

Talks over the formation of a new cabinet have stalled as President Michel Aoun and prime minister-designate Saad Hariri remain at loggerheads over the coming government’s make-up and reform agenda.

There is a new wave of emigration as the Lebanese struggle to make ends meet amid dwindling foreign currency reserves that have led to shortages in the vital supplies of fuel and medicine.

“The siege imposed on Lebanon has no impact on the corrupt," Mr Diab said. "It is rather the Lebanese people who are paying a heavy price that threatens their lives and their future as well as Lebanon’s role as a model and a message to the world.”

Updated: July 06, 2021, 2:02 PM