In meetings with Lebanon's religious leaders, President, Prime Minister, and Parliamentary Speaker, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, urged the country's leaders to address the dire economic situation Lebanon finds itself in and to resume negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout programme.
Guterres's visit on Saturday follows more than two months of gridlock during which Lebanon's government refused to meet due to ongoing disagreements over diplomatic disputes, street violence, and investigation into the Beirut Port explosion. Over 200 people were killed and 6,500 wounded in the port explosion on 4 August 2020.
Lebanon's economy has taken a nosedive with its currency losing more than 90% of its value since 2019. Three-quarters of the population has now fallen into poverty and hundreds of thousands of families are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. On Monday the Secretary-General noted that only 11% of the UN’s humanitarian response plan for Lebanon has been funded.
“I have urged Lebanon’s political leaders to implement reforms that respond to the demands of the Lebanese people for greater welfare, accountability, protection, and transparency, in order to restore hope for a better future,” Guterres told reporters.
Guterres has further stressed the need for Lebanon to reengage with formal discussions with the IMF for a bailout programme and to hold democratic elections. Government talks with the IMF fell through in July 2020.
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