‘No food in the fridge’: A gruelling Ramadan in Lebanon

But this year the busy NGO kitchen had to operate continuously, catering to at least the families of Syrian refugees and Lebanese families.

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“This year is very different,” Doha Adi, the NGO program manager, told Al Jazeera with a sigh.

 

“We provide hot food in remote areas of our [Bekaa Valley] kitchen, delivering food parcels to homes in Beirut and Tripoli – we never thought we would ever intervene in Beirut,” he said.

 

But it is not only Syrian and Lebanese refugees in danger in the country who are seeking an hour of development and helping to celebrate Ramadan.

 

The Lebanese pound has lost about 90 percent of its value since late 2019 and continues to decline.

 

 

In addition, food prices have risen – even for low-income families.

 

Lebanon exports most of its goods, including food, and Lebanon’s inflation rate is the highest in the world, according to the United Nations – with food prices rising by more than 400 percent.

 

‘What can you get out of it?’

 

Statistics from Nasser Yassin, a professor of policy and planning at the American University of Beirut, show that a typical fattoush salad – with basic ingredients such as lettuce, tomatoes, vegetables and parsley – is 210 percent more expensive to prepare for this year.

 

Yassin dismissed the tablet’s speculation that Lebanon could starve to death, but was still shocked by the country’s food crisis and said Lebanese families could switch to junk food, as most of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees are forced to do so.

 

“Instead of eating three times a day, they will eat twice as much, but mostly they want something less expensive, more carbs, less meat and more protein,” Yassin said.

 

Sawa for Development and Aid has so far received more than $ 12,000 in donations for its Ramadan food services this year, but the grant has already heard about the effects of food prices.

 

Preparing a food package to feed the family for just over a month has been used to cost them 100,000 pounds (100,000) in Lebanon ($ 66).

 

Said Adi. “One can of oil, maybe?”

 

Assembling that food parcel now costs six times as much.

 

“You can just go home and not get food in the fridge or on the benches.”

 

 

 

 

Supermarkets have seen controversy, with anxious customers arguing over sponsored cooking oil, powdered milk and other foods.

 

Some stores have limited food to prevent people from accumulating, but that does not end the controversy. In some cases security forces have had to intervene.

 

World Food Program spokesman Rasha Abou Dargham also told Al Jazeera that a growing number of people in Lebanon are no longer able to get the required amount of food.

 

The UN is helping about 1.5 million people in Lebanon. That’s about one in six people.

There is no obvious solution

 

A source from Lebanon’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, who requested anonymity, told Al Jazeera that he had done everything possible to address the problem of rising food prices, including monitoring excessive inflation in supermarkets and retailers.

 

 

The source added that the department had tried to force the government to adopt anti-trust laws – restricting freedom and promoting a very different market – but to no avail.

 

The Lebanese government is currently acting as acting prime minister, following the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab last August.

 

President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri are still at loggerheads, no new government.

 

Economy Minister Raoul Nehme unveiled subsidies for a variety of basic food items in May 2020. But that could soon end, as Lebanon is also preparing to export petrol, flour and medicine.

 

 

Overcoming destructive economic conditions in Lebanon will not be easy, especially in a country ruled by a corrupt regime.

 

But in the meantime, Adi said organizations such as Sawa for Development and Aid hope to comfort families with an iftar meal that reminds us of life before the economic downturn.

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