Lebanon’s Social Affairs Ministry Fights Poverty With A Flawed Strategy

Bel Trew

The Social Affairs Ministry launched an online platform on Monday that gives the lowest-income families the option to apply for assistance, noting that “development services centers are currently unable to receive Lebanese citizens” due to the total lockdown measures.

The ministry, which supposedly has knowledge on the conditions of lowest-income families, completely ignored the fact that these families in particular do not have the means to afford Internet access to be able to register.

The website, which has also issues loading, is just another unobtainable tool to fight poverty in a country where the poverty line has reached 50% of its population, according to the United Nations.

Authorities say they have started disbursing monthly payments of 400,000 Lebanese pounds (about $50 at the market rate) to some 230,000 families.

Yet, caretaker Minister for Social Affairs Ramzi Musharrafieh himself acknowledged on Tuesday that three-quarters of the population need financial assistance.

Hence, the money being distributed as financial aid to impoverished families in Lebanon is just not enough.

A man asking for financial aid to help his family in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo by: Ramzi Hajj.

The Interior Ministry recently applied a similar flawed system to its curfew permits platform, which allows those excluded from the exemptions specified by the Higher Defense Council, to go out during the extended total lockdown.

However, this strategy automatically prevents anyone who does not have technological knowledge or internet access from leaving their home.

To make matters worse, some people have shared that they have submitted random silly reasons through the exemption website, and their requests got accepted.

Lebanon, a country of more than six million, is going through the toughest economic crisis that precedes the pandemic and restrictions imposed to combat it.

Yet, with multiple flawed strategies imposed by the Lebanese government, the population’s trust in those holding great power over the country has completely vanished.

It didn’t need much of a brain to know that locking down people for weeks without assistance for their basic needs was prone to cause a revolt as they are now more terrorized by the looming hunger than the lethal covid-19 raging through the country.

A reality Lebanon is witnessed these days in the streets of Tripoli.

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