Lebanon caretaker leader pleads for foreign help as crisis deepens

Published : July 07, 2021 20:50 IST

Hassan Diab (centre). Photo: Lebanon Govt Press Office

Lebanon's caretaker prime minister says the country is on the verge of a "major catastrophe." Foreign leaders have asked for stable government and reforms.

Lebanon′s caretaker Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, called for international help to avoid a "social explosion" caused by one of the worst depressions since the 19th century in comments on July 6. Diab said: "Lebanon is crossing a very dark tunnel" that is leading the country toward a "major catastrophe" at all levels of society. Diab said political rivalry and the lack of a democratically elected government since October were only increasing financial instability.

What did Hassan Diab say?

Diab spoke about his grave concerns over Lebanon′s future after a meeting with foreign and Arab ambassadors at the governmental palace. "The severe crises experienced by the Lebanese at various levels of life, living, social, health and services are pushing the situation in Lebanon towards a major catastrophe," he revealed. Diab said his country was "just days away from a social explosion," and pleaded with the international community to "help save Lebanese from death and prevent Lebanon's demise."

What led to this situation?

Diab stepped down as Prime Minister after an explosion at Beirut port killed over 200 people on August 4. However, he stayed on as caretaker prime minister pending a new government. The West Asian country has been without a government since October, making significant change difficult.

One of the many challenges a new government would have to confront is the free fall of the Lebanese, which has nosedived 90% since 2019 against the dollar. The World Bank has called the resulting financial crisis one of the world′s worst since the 1800s. The devaluation of the Lebanese pound has caused long queues for petrol and shortages in medicines.