ESCWA warns: more than half of Lebanon’s population trapped in poverty

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While this percentage is expected to decrease due to the multiple shocks at play, high inequality in the distribution of wealth will persist.

by Tala Ramadan -Source: Annahar

Damaged buildings are seen near the site of last week’s massive explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: Hit by the blast that came at a time when the country is passing through the worst economic crisis, and daily spikes in virus cases, Lebanon is crippled by the multiple shocks which caused an unprecedented increase in its headcount poverty rate.

According to a brief by the United Nations, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA,) more than 55% of the country’s population is now trapped in poverty and struggling for bare necessities, which is almost double last year’s rate which was 28%. Extreme poverty has registered a threefold increase from 8% in 2019 to 23% in 2020.

These estimates spell havoc for the ability of Lebanon to retain its predominantly middle-income population status. The middle-income group has contracted from over 57% of the population in 2019 to less than 40% in 2020.

Societal solidarity is indeed a necessity, as Lebanon has one of the most unequal wealth distributions in the Arab region and the world. In 2019, the richest 10% owned about 70% of all personal wealth in the country estimated at $232.2 billion, the brief explains.

While this percentage is expected to decrease due to the multiple shocks at play, high inequality in the distribution of wealth will persist.

 

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