in Lebanon, the difficult daily life of a slow-moving country

By Laure Stephan

Posted today at 2:00 p.m., updated at 2:16 p.m.

On paper, Lebanon is under strict confinement until February 8: curfew, certificate to leave his home, closure of food stores outside deliveries … This plan is far from convincing all the Lebanese, who put involved the inconsistent policy of the authorities in the fight against the coronavirus and the lack of adequate compensation for the most disadvantaged.

Almost 300,000 cases and more than 2,600 deaths have been recorded in this country of 6 million inhabitants. In Tripoli, the large city in northern Lebanon, the confinement is an additional blow for a population severely affected by the economic crisis. If the city is idling, it has known, since Monday, January 25, evenings of demonstrations and violent clashes. Residents confide their concerns in these times of “closure”.

The ground floor of the headquarters of the Municipality of Tripoli caught fire during clashes with the security forces, on the sidelines of the protests against containment and the economic crisis, Thursday, January 29.

Walid Soufi, university teacher, 37 years old and father of two children

I spend part of my day teaching online. It is not obvious: we are not trained for this, the equipment is at our expense, and Internet or electricity problems are frequent. My wife also teaches: it’s complicated when we teach at the same time, with our young children.

This confinement is the hardest of those we have experienced. Provide an exit authorization request to be completed on the Internet, it had to be done! Tripoli has a high percentage of illiterates. Have we thought of them?

I put my nose outside to do a little sport. But our problem is not whether we are allowed to go out or whether the stores are open. It is the economic crisis, the shortage and the increasing cost of certain products. Milk for my one-and-a-half-year-old son is nowhere to be found.

Walid Soufi, 37, a university professor and father of two, in his cousin's apartment in Tripoli, January 29, 2021.Walid Soufi, 37, a university professor and father of two, in his cousin's apartment in Tripoli, January 29, 2021.

I respect social distancing, I wear a mask, but will it protect us from economic disaster? The situation has deteriorated for over a year. We are privileged over others. Our salaries are no longer worth anything in foreign currency, but at least we are paid in this time of confinement. We feel very vulnerable. All the ingredients are there for a social explosion. But I haven’t lost hope. Otherwise, I would have left the country. I remain very attached to my city.

Hamed Minkara, pharmacist in the district of Bab El-Ramel, 29 years old, single (pharmacies are among the businesses authorized to open)

I do not wear a mask in my pharmacy. I feel depressed by the situation in general, and by what I am going through: some clients run their nerves on me because medicine cannot be found, others cry because they cannot afford care. Sometimes I help people in distress, thanks to the support of people who open an account here for the most needy.

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