Lebanese army receives food donated by French embassy

Military signs agreement to receive donations valued at $60,000

epa08978517 A Lebanese army soldier stands guard during a protest against the lockdown at Al Nour square in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, 31 January 2021.  Protestors are demonstrating against the economic situations, where Lebanon on 07 January began a complete 25-day closure nationwide, which was extended by the Supreme Defense Council until 08 February, to curb the spread of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus.  EPA/WAEL HAMZEH

The Lebanese army on Monday signed an agreement with the French embassy to receive food donations valued at $60,000.

More than 2,100 food parcels are to be distributed to soldiers in the coming days.

"This is part of a continued military co-operation between France and Lebanon, and continued support for the Lebanese army," a French diplomatic source told The National.

The parcels include basic food items such as rice, oil, and pasta, which have tripled in price during Lebanon’s economic crisis.

The average monthly salary of a Lebanese soldier is 1,300,000 Lebanese pounds. At the “official” exchange rate pegged by the Central Bank, this is equal to about $866.

But the value has been slashed by more than 80 per cent over the past year, with the Lebanese pound trading at 10,000 to the US dollar on the black market.

This reduced soldiers’ salaries to about $150 while the cost of living continued to soar.

“We can’t talk to the media but things are really bad,” a soldier said.

In June 2020, as Lebanon’s financial crisis unfolded, the army announced that it would be cutting meat out of soldiers’ daily meals.

Over the past year, the cost of food items in Lebanon has increased by 174 per cent, according to the UN World Food Programme.

One kilogram of meat reached a peak price of 50,000 Lebanese pounds. Today it is selling for slightly lower at 40,000 to 45,000.

"Everything is crazy expensive," the soldier told The National.  "We don't know how we can sustain ourselves for much longer."

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