Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab. (Elias Zaghrini/Wikimedia Commons)

Lebanon PM Warns of Major Food Crisis

Lebanon’s prime minister has warned of a major food crisis due to the country’s financial instability, which has been amplified due to the coronavirus outbreak. In a Washington Post op-ed, Hassan Diab called on the United States and the European Union to set up an emergency fund to help Middle Eastern states avoid severe food shortages. Otherwise, he wrote, “starvation may spark a new migration flow to Europe and further destabilize the region.” Lebanon was already in dire financial straits prior to the pandemic, with the local currency having lost half of its value since October. Inflation and unemployment in the nation continue to soar, and the government in March defaulted on its sovereign debt obligations. According to Diab, the price of imported food, which accounts for 50% of Lebanon’s total supply, has more than doubled since the beginning of 2020. “A few weeks ago, Lebanon witnessed its first ‘hunger protests.’ Many Lebanese have already stopped buying meat, fruits and vegetables, and may soon find it difficult to afford even bread,” he wrote. He added that lockdowns imposed over COVID-19 had “dramatically worsened the economic [situation] and profoundly disrupted the food supply chain.”

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