Qatar has pledged millions in support to crises-hit Lebanon.
Qatar has helped Lebanon procure some 991,000 litres of fuel that will be used by healthcare facilities nationwide, according to Qatar Fund for Development.
The assistance is expected to provide crucial support to some 40 hospitals, healthcare facilities and elderly homes in Lebanon, which is facing one of its worst economic crises in decades.
“The Lebanese Ministry of Public Health received two batches of about 991,000 liters of fuel Funded by Qatar Fund for Development. Where this will support more than 40 hospital and health facility and elderly care homes from this support,” QFFD said in a tweet.
Qatari officials have on various occasions expressed readiness to support Lebanon’s economy once Beirut is able to form a government.
The Gulf state is already providing the Lebanese army with 70 tonnes of food per month for an entire year to help alleviate some burdens for authorities in Beirut.
Last month, a trip to Beirut by Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani saw the official pledge a further $60 million to the military.
Worst crisis in decades
Lebanon’s worsening situation was exacerbated by the Covid-19 outbreak and the tragic Beirut port blast in 2020. At least 200 people were killed by the explosion, with families of victims demanding accountability two years on.
Despite billions of aid sent to the country in response to the tragedy, it has yet to financially recover. The Gulf state was the first country to offer direct support for the Lebanese in the aftermath of the explosion, pledging more than $70 million in donations.
Meanwhile, three quarters of Lebanon’s population have been pushed into poverty and are living under inflation as a result of the economic situation.
The country is also facing a fuel shortage and an electricity crisis, where most of the population receives limited power access.
Lebanon’s state electricity company Electricité du Liban (EDL) has accumulated $40 billion of debt, roughly 43% of government debt, since 1992, according to Energy for Growth Hub.
The World Bank has described the situation in Lebanon as one of the worst financial crises in modern times.
In February, Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Al-Kaabi said that his country seeks to support Lebanon in its fuel crisis.
“Lebanon is a very dear country to our leadership and our heart as a nation and I think with the troubles that have happened we lost an opportunity. We had bid to go into Lebanon,” said Al-Kaabi, in response to Doha News, at a press conference at the time.
The assistance has been recognised among Lebanese ranks
President Michel Aoun expressed the importance of Qatar’s support to Lebanon during its times of hardship, noting the two countries seek to continue developing ties.
Political crisis in Lebanon
In May, Lebanon held its first parliamentary elections since 2018 and the first since the 2019 revolution against the ruling elite. The revolution also saw the resignation of then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Hariri ended his political career in January this year.
Since then, conditions in Lebanon have continued to worsen, especially after the currency lost 90% of its value to the US dollar. The population has also been unable to access their savings from local banks.
Meanwhile, the public have been left disappointed with the results of the elections, with previous hopes to vote out politicians they blame for the country’s economic turmoil falling on deaf ears.
In February this year, Sheikh Mohammed stressed the need to address Lebanon’s political divide to resolve its decades-long crises.
“Unfortunately, the people of Lebanon are under a lot of political pressure from their own political leaders. This is what resulted at the end of the day with what we have seen now with these divisions,” he said.
Speaking about efforts to find a diplomatic solution in Lebanon, Sheikh Mohammed said the sectarian system remains a burden.
“We see some of the political leaders with a desire to change, but unfortunately there’s something in the system that’s holding everyone back.”