BEIRUT | glaring Evidence of the economic collapse in Lebanon, which has plunged large segments of the population in poverty, many households now find themselves with refrigerators almost empty.
In default of payment since march for the first time in its history, Lebanon financial distress has seen its national currency tied to the greenback since 1997, plummet on the secondary market, even if the official exchange rate remains unchanged.
A salary of a million lebanese pounds, is now worth less than US $ 200, compared to about $ 700 last August.
In a country heavily dependent on imports, the impact of the impairment is severe. Prices have been propelled to dizzying heights, while thousands of companies have put the key under the door, or fired many employees.
The photographers of the AFP have spent several days to visit the interiors and the kitchens of the country’s main cities: Beirut, Tripoli, Byblos, Jounieh, and Saida.
Lebanese and Lebanese who have accepted to be photographed next to their refrigerators are left wide open, in kitchens sometimes dark and summaries or lounges to the furnishings spartan.
Worn and turned yellow by time, or a pristine white, all of these fridges had one thing in common: shelves and bins are practically empty.
Fadwa Merhebi admit they can no longer afford to keep racing. In his fridge are a bottle of mineral water and two cucumbers.
“If there were more small refrigerators on the market, I’d sell mine and I would buy one,” says this woman of 60 years old, who lives alone in a tiny apartment in Tripoli (north).
“At least, I could use the money to buy something to eat,” sighed she.
A new class of Lebanese poor has made its appearance, far from the image of a country once dubbed the “Switzerland of the Middle East” for its legendary nightlife and its entrepreneurial genius.
The current crisis, intensified by the measures taken to cope with the new coronavirus, has also sounded the death knell of a middle class that delves a bit more every day in poverty. According to the world Bank, almost half of the population now lives below the poverty line.