Ongoing Situational Report: Lebanon’s Crippled Public Sector

Written by Akshat Sharma

September 13, 2022

Safety | Situation Room | Travel

Travel Risk: HIGH

Picture Courtesy: RomanDeckert

Brief introduction to the situation

  • Lebanon is situated on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Its capital is Beirut, and it is made up of a small geographic area. Lebanon is currently facing a public sector crisis due to rising strikes, operational inefficiency, economic downturn, and political redundancy.

What has led to the current situation?

  • As the value of the Lebanese Pound continues to decline, the average public servant’s monthly wage has decreased from about $1,000 to barely $50 – and counting.
  • As a result, in the past two months, thousands of state employees in Lebanon have been on strike to protest against the income fall brought on by this economic collapse – one of the worst in modern history. Recently, 350 Lebanese judges did not attend court proceedings for a week to demand a wage increase. Approximately six out of every ten state employees are either in the process of or have plans of migrating of out the country.
  • The state infrastructure is at breaking point because of years of unrestrained spending, corruption, and a preference for short-term improvements over long-term ones. State revenues have also plummeted to dangerously low levels due to delayed tax collection for two months when tax officials went on strike.
  • The energy crisis has taken its toll on day-to-day public life. In the Parliament, security guards pass messages up and down the stairs since there isn’t enough gasoline to power the elevator’s generator.

We are in a state of collapse”, said Lamia Moubayed – Lebanese Institute of Finance Basil Fuleihan.

Is it Safe to Travel to Lebanon?

  • It is currently NOT safe to travel to Lebanon. There is growing public discontentment that may provoke violence between protestors and law enforcement authorities. Further disruptions in essential public services are likely. Due to continuous strikes by civil servants, banks, government offices, and other public machinery is paralyzed in Lebanon.

Assessment

  • Avoid all protests and strikes as even peaceful ones can quickly turn violent. Avoid travel near protest sites and plan alternate routes. Ensure access to adequate shelter and essential services (such as energy) to minimize disruptions as well as safety risks. Avoid hotels and private accommodations that may be vulnerable to damage during protest violence. Monitor local news before travelling as there may be a high safety risk at popular tourist attractions in Lebanon. 
  • Exercise extra caution while visiting public places. There has recently been a hostage situation at a federal bank in Beirut.
  • Businesses may face increasing disruptions due to dissatisfied employees and consequent strikes. High wage demands may spiral further into inflationary costs that may be unsustainable for enterprises. 
  • Consider a Sitata membership which will give you disruption and threat warnings while you’re on the ground along with emergency travel assistance should you find yourself in a troubling situation.
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