Three Quarters of Lebanon’s Residents Plunge into Poverty

SEPTEMBER 5, 2021

Three Quarters of Lebanon’s Residents Plunge into Poverty

By UN ESCWA

Poverty in Lebanon has drastically increased over the past year, now affecting about 74% of the total population, warns a new policy brief on “Multidimensional Poverty in Lebanon: Painful Reality and Uncertain Prospects” issued today by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia [ESCWA].

Taking into account dimensions other than income, such as access to health, education and public utilities, increases the rate to 82% of the population living in multidimensional poverty.

This new policy brief comes one year after a previous ESCWA publication on poverty in Lebanon, which had found that between 2019 and 2020, the headcount poverty rate had already jumped from 28% to 55%. According to today’s updates, the multidimensional poverty rate in Lebanon has nearly doubled from 42% in 2019 to 82% in 2021.

Against this backdrop, ESCWA Executive Secretary Rola Dashti reiterated her call for the establishment of a social solidarity fund to alleviate the country’s humanitarian crisis. She recalled that, in 2020, ESCWA put forward a proposal: the 10% richest decile in Lebanon, who held nearly $91 billion of wealth at the time, could bridge the funding gap for poverty eradication by making annual contributions of 1% of their net wealth.

According to the study, interlinked shocks exposed the Lebanese pound exchange rate, which has been fixed since the beginning of the century, to tremendous pressures, causing currency depreciation. Inflation soared to 281% between June 2019 and June 2021. These combined shocks have led to a significant decrease in the living standards of both Lebanese and non-Lebanese, and to rampant deprivation.

Moreover, extreme multidimensional poverty, which refers to deprivation in two or more dimensions of poverty, affects 34% of the population today, exceeding half in some areas of the country.

Given that the unprecedented socioeconomic crisis in Lebanon afflicts all segments of society, population groups with highest and lowest levels of educational attainment now register similar poverty rates. The study also highlights that the share of households deprived of healthcare increased to 33%, and the share of those unable to obtain medicines has also increased to more than half.

“Mitigating the impact of the crisis requires solidarity and cooperation between all segments of the Lebanese society,” Dashti stressed, while urging the development of effective social protection schemes that are more responsive to the needs of the poor, especially those living in extreme multidimensional poverty, and the expansion of their scope to include the unemployed.

It is worth to note that, with the progress of development research and the availability of more detailed surveys, the concept of poverty expanded to take into account living conditions and various aspects of deprivation not limited to income. This new concept has become known as “multidimensional poverty”, measured by six key dimensions, namely education, health, public utilities, housing, assets and property, and employment and income.

‘Israeli’ Occupation of Syrian Golan Heights Illegitimate, Invalid – UN

July 23, 2021

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By Staff, Agencies

The United Nations emphasized Syria’s sovereignty over the ‘Israeli’-occupied Golan Heights, stressing that annexation measures imposed by the Tel Aviv regime in the territory are invalid and illegitimate.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia [ESCWA] made the announcement in a periodic report distributed in Beirut, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported on Thursday.

“The compliance with the international law and the absence of impunity are two prerequisites for achieving peace and justice for all the peoples of the region,” the UN body added.

In 1967, the Zionist occupation waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, during which it occupied a large swathe of Golan and annexed it four years later, a move never recognized by the international community.

In 1973, another war broke out and a year later, a UN-brokered ceasefire came into force, according to which Tel Aviv and Damascus agreed to separate their troops and create a buffer zone in the Heights.

The Zionist entity has over the past decades built dozens of settlements in the Golan Heights in defiance of international calls for the regime to stop its illegal construction activities.

Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.

The United Nations has time and again emphasized Syria’s sovereignty over the territory.

In March 2019, former American president Donald Trump controversially signed a decree recognizing ‘Israeli’ “sovereignty” over the Golan Heights during a meeting with then Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

The ESCWA report, which covers the period from April 2020 to March 2021, further stressed that it is impossible to achieve sustainable development in the occupied Palestinian territories in light of the continuing ‘Israeli’ occupation and the policies and practices pursued by the entity.

The UN commission also emphasized the necessity of halting such Zionist measures that hinder efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide additional humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

The report also stressed that the measures and policies adopted by the Zionist regime in Arab territories, occupied since 1967, including the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, are all in sheer violation of international law.

Elsewhere in the report, ESCWA said that last year was one of the worst years in the Palestinian economy since 2002, as it shrank by 11.5 percent.

The UN commission prepares a report for the UN chief every year on the economic and social repercussions of the ‘Israeli’ occupation on the conditions of the Palestinians in the occupied territories and also the conditions of the Syrians in the Golan Heights.

Bernie Sanders Talks Out of Both Sides of His Mouth, Tries to Justify Signing onto UN Letter


Last week all 100 members of the US Senate signed onto a letter criticizing the UN, and particularly the UN Human Rights Council, for seeking to “advance an anti-Israel agenda.” In the above video, Bernie Sanders, probably beloved by more liberals than any other member of the Senate, attempts to justify his decision to add his signature to the letter.

“The thrust of that letter is not to say that Israel does not have have human rights issues. It does,” he says in his defense.

One of course would not know this from reading the letter (the full text of which can be found here ). If Sanders and the other senators truly feel that Israel indeed has “human rights issues,” they evidently don’t regard these as serious enough to merit mentioning.  Israel in the letter is portrayed as nothing more than a victim of persecution.

The first paragraph accuses UN agencies and member states of seeking to exploit the UN as “a vehicle for targeting Israel,” and goes on to assert that such actions have “at times reinforced the broader scourge of anti-Semitism.”

So let’s see…if you criticize Israel at the UN you are helping to advance “the broader scourge of anti-Semitism,” this despite the fact that Israel maintains an illegal occupation “that has no end in sight,” as the interviewer in the above video puts it.

The letter is addressed to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who actually gets cudos from the senators for axing a recent report on Israeli apartheid that had been compiled by the Economic and  Social Commission for Western Asia. Guterres’ deletion of the report from the UN’s website was an act of censorship that prompted the resignation of Rima Khalaf, the ESCWA’s director, as I discussed in a previous post.

But adulation for Guterres notwithstanding, the senators, as mentioned above, particularly have it in for the UNHRC. They grouse that the body “even maintains a permanent item on its agenda–‘Agenda Item VII’–to assess Israel…” Heaven forbid!

Israel is an apartheid state (as the ESCWA report makes abundantly clear) whose policies toward the Palestinians probably even meet the legal definition of genocide, as I have pointed out a number of times previously. The UNHRC would be derelict if it did not have a separate agenda item to discuss such matters. Yet Sanders and the other 99 senators accuse the UNHRC of an “imbalanced focus on Israel.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big fan of the UN, which more often than not has been used as a tool to advance US foreign policy goals, and Guterres seems well on his way to following in his predecessor Ban Ki-moon’s footsteps in that regard. Occasionally, however, one or another member of the UN will work up the nerve to criticize Israel or oppose a US war. This is one of the UN’s redeeming qualities.

As for Sanders, he is speaking out of both sides of his mouth to such an extent in the above video that I almost feel embarrassed for him. Welllll…I–I–didn’t write the letter, I only signed onto it! Yes, yes I’m a lifetime proponent of nonviolent protests…uh…but no, I don’t support the BDS movement. Well then what is left for the Palestinians to do, Senator Sanders?—change the subject.

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If there were a country somewhere in the world where Jews were forced into an apartheid ghetto surrounded by walls and checkpoints would Sanders, who is Jewish, be opposed to a boycott of that nation? The answer probably is yes–because instead of a boycott, the senator from Vermont would be too busy advocating a military invasion.

This is Jewish hypocrisy from the liberal end of the Zionist spectrum. Hardly any wonder, then, that Sanders, in the video’s closing segment, expresses opposition to a one-state solution–in which Palestinians and Israelis would enjoy equal rights and equal citizenship–because, as he puts it, “that would be the end of the state of Israel.”

In saying this, is Sanders not in effect admitting that Israel is an ethno-theocratic state rather than a democracy? It would seem so, but apparently Sanders has a fondness for ethno-theocratic states provided they are Jewish.

“And I support Israel’s right to exist,” he reminds us.

Given that the left in America so often tends to elevate such “luminaries” as Sanders as its leaders and role models, it is no wonder that the American left has been such a colossal failure.

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