“We are hostages in our home”: In Lebanon, the economic crisis is worsening
The United Nations says half of Lebanon’s population now depends on humanitarian aid. Some residents rob their banks to get their savings back.
In Lebanon, the national currency is disappearing. while before starting from the economic crisis In 2019, the largest banknote – 100,000 pounds – was worth 70 euros, and it just fell below the symbolic bar of 1 euro. So it lost 98% of its value.
facing a Substantial devaluationMany traders now prefer to display quotes in dollars. “With the crisis, we gradually shifted from the Lebanese pound to the dollar.”As Karim says, he shops in an east Beirut supermarket. “It’s more practical, because before we got to the supermarket with huge amounts of money. Now we can pay in dollars. Because we import everything in the end, the state produces nothing. So these are the real prices that are shown in the supermarkets. The rest was a lie.” “the 50-year-old thought.
“It’s much simpler: our economy is dollarized.”Karim is from Beirut
The problem is that, unlike Karim, the majority of residents still get paid in Lebanese pounds, like 30-year-old Serena. “Our wages don’t keep up with inflation, it’s unfair!”she complained. “It’s become very expensive to fill the fridge. We only buy what’s necessary, the bare minimum to survive.”
Rob his bank to get back his own savings
According to the United Nations, half of the population is now dependent Humanitarian aid. In fact, most Lebanese no longer have a safety net, pension or health insurance. And since the financial crisis, which is intensifying every day a little more in the country, their savings are locked in the banks. Withdrawals are legalized by the authorities. “It’s a disaster”Sorry Zina, 60, is trying to get some tickets from a distributor. “Our money is withheld, we don’t know what to do. We are hostages, but in our house. No work, no money… It’s not fair.”
“I don’t even know how I will pay for electricity at the end of the month.”Zina, 60, Lebanese
Like everyone else, Zina points out the responsibility of the corrupt political class in power. Because if, since 2019, the Lebanese, like her, could no longer withdraw their money, many politicians and bank managers were able to put away their savings. “Whether they are Christians or Muslims, they are all in the same boat.”He accuses of sexual hostility. “They have transferred their money abroad, and are living very well. On the other hand, we, the residents, what are they dying for?”
A situation that gave rise to a phenomenon several months ago: dozens of Lebanese, sometimes armed, who Rob their bank. To date, none of them have been convicted. Because if it is clear that robbing a bank is illegal in Lebanon, then preventing a depositor from withdrawing his money is also illegal.
Rob his bank to get back his own savings
“We’re stealing, in quotations, our own money. Between us, we like to call it ‘checkout 2.0′”says Georges*, who made an appointment with franceinfo in an underground car park. “It is a bank withdrawal, but it requires muscular methods, while it is our full right.” This man, who says he is ready to rob the manager of his bank very soon, suffers from a chronic disease. He needs the $100,000 placed in his account to heal himself. “To be very clear: Today, driven by despair and strong in our right to survive, we are ready for anything.”
“In Drag 2.0, the thief is the hero. And the thief is the bank.”Lebanese George
George is part of the most important associations for the defense of the rights of Lebanese depositors, United. Its founder, attorney Rami Alik, supports these amateur thieves. Justify the use of violence against managers of banking institutions: Despite the evidence, none of them were arrested.He remembers. “Justice doesn’t work, no one is held accountable. So we can’t tell doers who are dying at hospital doors, or who can’t feed their families, to wait nicely for justice to come. Wake up.”.
“Their savings are in the hands of thieving bankers”Follow Ramy Alik. “They spend lavishly, and they don’t care about people’s suffering. So we have to help depositors take justice into their own hands, and get their money back.” These thefts are not without risks. Banks recruit private security guards, who are often armed. Real militia, hired to protect its apparatus and the homes of its powerful leaders.
∗ The first name has been changed