Lebanon

The COVID-19 health crisis added to the multidimensional crises in the Arab region and their manifestation in conflicts, wars, economic and social inequalities, and the increasing number of refugees and migrants. It could lead to severe repercussions at the economic, social, and political levels. According to an ESCWA preliminary estimate, the region will lose at least USD42 billion in 2020 due to the Corona pandemic. ESCWA also considered that the global spread of the virus and the growing impact of low oil prices could aggravate income losses. Unemployment is expected to increase by 1.2 percentage points, meaning the loss of around 1.7 million jobs. The Arab region registers some of the highest rates of inequality around the world, and informal employment accounts for 50% of jobs. It also lacks universal social protection systems and is thus unable to protect workers and ensure their dignity during work stoppages.

Ziad Abdel Samad
Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)

Never has the world witnessed such a state of panic, not even in world wars, where vast areas remained relatively safe. But the current Corona epidemic seems like a state of global war that will not exclude anyone or any region of this planet. Countries have closed their borders and airports, stopped their railways, and reduced the movement of shipping. Regions inside the same state were isolated and citizens voluntarily quarantined in an unprecedented manner. Distance education has become the way to complete the academic year, depending on the infrastructure required to communicate via the Internet and appropriate applications.

Civil Society Organizations and Research Center in Lebanon released a statement in reaction to the Government response to the Covid 19 crisis.
The suggestions and recommendations stem from the need to take a comprehensive approach to the crisis with its health, economic and social dimensions, with human rights and dignity at the center of the approach taken, and learn from this crisis in order to develop plans that strengthen public health care systems, free education and public access to social security.

The formation of the new Lebanese government on 21 January 2020, nearly one hundred days after the eruption of the popular protests, is an important milestone in the first stage of the confrontation between the “revolution” and the authorities. This has raised questions and discussions among activists and groups whether the revolution has made progress, or the formation of the government constitutes a return to the bottom, to pre 17 October period.

So what has the revolution achieved against the regime?

Indeed, the revolution has had accomplishments on two levels, the authorities’ and popular levels.

Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) issues a statement on the ‘Deal of the Century’ and recalls that an immediate end to Israeli occupation and the recognition of the universal, indivisible and inalienable Palestinian Rights are the foundations of a sustainable Peace in the Middle East.

On January 28th, 2020 the Middle East Peace Plan known as the Deal of the Century was presented by the US President Donald Trump in Washington DC. A “peace” plan that was built unilaterally and that considers the Israeli occupation as the exclusive partner. The “peace” plan markets an illusion of peace at the expense of Palestinian people’s rights and dignity. It gives further impunity to all human rights violations committed by the Israeli occupation, including through legalizing illegal Israeli settlements.

Wicked Politics and Shaken Socio-Economy

Since 17 October 2019, Lebanon has been witnessing a massive wave of unprecedented nationwide protests, which are deemed tomarka new era in its history. These protests are motivated by the direct repercussions of the economic and monetary crisis on the Lebanese population, but are indeed rooted in a structurally flawed economic system and wicked political practices and corruption embraced by the successive governments for decades. The protests ar widespread across the country and remain non-sectarian, marking the biggest postwar civil movement, as the Lebanese people overcome their religious and political divergences and join forces in an attempt to achieve real change. This change was long awaited by the Lebanese, and the civil society specifically that has been for years trying to promote partnerships and engage in policy making at different levels, despite the lack of serious and effective channels.

Photo: UNHCR/F.Juez

The official Lebanese VNR report of 2018 blames the Syria crisis for the economic deficits that increased the debt, as well as for economic stagnation, the doubling of unemployment and worsening poverty rates. Yet, according to the alternative civil society report by the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), “this exclusively negative narrative about Syrian refugees does not distinguish between the huge impact of the Syrian crisis/war on the economy and political situation in Lebanon, and the diversified impact of the presence of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon. This latter allowed financial flow of aids to increase, as well as the domestic consumption that produced around 1 -1.5 percent of GDP growth, and provided a cheap labour force that prevented the bankruptcy of many small businesses.”

Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) hosts an electronic platform to share information and reports on the progress in the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development issued by CSOs in the Arab Region.

The right to food is a priority at the global level, and especially in the Arab region where countries with heightened armed conflicts as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Palestine suffer from severe malnutrition. And yet, conflicts are not the only reason behind the deterioration in the food situation, because it is primarily due to the social and economic policies adopted, as well as climate change and change in production and consumption patterns. In fact, these policies have had a significant impact on small producers and rural populations.

To better understand the setbacks for the right to food, the Arab Watch Report 2019 raises these concerns through 10 national and six regional papers, which all adopt an all-encompassing approach to the right to food and its aspects.

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