«When I can afford it, I buy bananas. They are the cheapest fruits». Il papà libanese Antoine frequenta il nostro centro di emergenza a Tripoli, Libano, e la sua testimonianza sulle difficoltà di portare il cibo quotidiano in tavola è quella di tante famiglie libanesi.
In fact, Lebanon has been facing an economic and financial crisis for over three years, and nobody can predict its end. It is a multifaceted crisis that continues to negatively impact all aspects of society, pushing a significant portion of families who used to live decently into a truly precarious situation.
The dramatic Lebanese crisis is not only creating new humanitarian emergencies but also reversing the recent progress made in the country’s structural and economic development.
Without long-term development plans and serious reforms, analysts predict that the Lebanese government’s ability to manage all these overlapping shocks will diminish over time.
Some data about the crisis
The income and purchasing power of families and workers have been heavily impacted due to inflation and the depreciation of the Lebanese pound, to which the increase in the cost of essential goods must be added. It is the most vulnerable people in society who are experiencing the effects of a crisis that is progressively eroding their ability to meet basic needs. Annual inflation in Lebanon reached 190% in February of this year. The price of food items included in the minimum survival expenditure basket (SMEB) in Lebanese pounds increased by 48% in February 2023 compared to the previous month. Since October 2019, the price of food has increased by 11,300%, while the price of energy has increased by 4,400%.
It is estimated that a total of two million and one hundred thousand people need some form of humanitarian assistance in Lebanon.
Families in the Land of Cedars rely on providence and charitable food banks in order to eat. A grocery list for one person for just two weeks easily reaches $100 – not including long-lasting food items. For example, a piece of cheese costs five dollars, three or four essential cleaning detergents for the house cost twenty dollars, a 140-gram package of coffee costs two dollars, and so on.
The Emergency Center of Pro Terra Sancta in Lebanon and Antoine’s Testimony
Our Emergency Center of Pro Terra Sancta Lebanon is trying to address this food crisis through monthly distributions of food and hygiene products between Beirut and Tripoli, serving around 500 families.
Antoine, one of our beneficiaries and a father of two children, explained to us how food has become a “luxury.” “I work in a small grocery store and earn a very low salary, even below the minimum wage. My children eat only once a day. It has been months since we had any meat; I try to buy vegetables once every two weeks. As for fruits, when I can afford it, I buy bananas because they are the cheapest. My wife mainly prepares lentils, rice, and pasta, which is what we receive in the food kits,” Antoine tells us while looking at his children with concern. “This morning, the apartment owner visited me. He gave me an ultimatum: I have to leave the house at the end of the month. I used to pay $50 per month for rent, and now he’s asking for $200. I don’t have that money, and I can’t get it. How will I feed my family, pay the rent, school fees, and all the other bills if I barely earn $70 per month?”
Determined to help everyone
It has been months since we were last able to register additional families. With over 13,000 beneficiaries, it has been a real challenge to meet all their needs. Nearly a hundred people contact us monthly seeking help, with a significant increase in those in need in the past two months. Pro Terra Sancta operates in Lebanon with numerous activities, ranging from distributing food, clothes, medicines, and school supplies to dozens of impoverished Iraqi, Syrian, and Lebanese families, to providing vocational training.