Lebanese man sets his car ablaze to protest fuel shortage

Lebanese man sets his car ablaze to protest fuel shortage
3 min read
06 June, 2021
Lebanese residents have reacted in anger at the rationing of fuel, as the government struggles to find enough foreign exchange to pay for basic imports, including for power generation and the delivery of basic services.
A closed petrol station in Beirut [Getty]

A Lebanese man set his car on fire on Saturday after not being able to refuel it, amid severe shortages triggered by a deepening economic crisis and dwindling dollar reserves.

The incident took place in the town of Qaa, in the Baalbek-Hermel Governorate, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA). The identity of the man was not disclosed.

Lebanese residents have reacted in anger at the rationing of fuel, as the government struggles to find enough foreign exchange to pay for basic imports, including for power generation and the delivery of basic services.

In one video filmed inside one of the queuing cars and posted on social media, a Tripoli-based teacher spat in anger that she "can’t go back to school and teach if I don’t refuel gasoline".

"Shame on you, and more shame on the silent people," she said, addressing the comments at the caretaker minister of education and the whole political class in Lebanon, which protesters taking to the streets since October 2019 accuse of corruption.

Violent outbreaks have become more common as disputes break out among exasperated residents. Last month, 24-year-old Ghais Masry was killed at his grandfather's petrol station as shots were fired in Bebnine, Akkar.

His cousin, Yasser, said in a Facebook post that what had killed Masry was "first and foremost by the neglect of the Lebanese state".

"Its deep corruption made people kill and be killed for the sake of gasoline," he said. "The real killers will sit in their palaces on the thrones of corruption and look at the poor fighting."

Lebanon is no stranger to shortages. Regular power cuts run for at least three hours a day in the capital and much longer in other areas as the state's power plants cannot meet demand. Many rely on fuel-powered private generators.

The economic meltdown, the biggest crisis since the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, has exacerbated the nation's problems.

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According to the World Bank’s latest Lebanon Economic Monitor (LEM), released earlier this month, the economic and financial crisis is likely to rank in the top 10, possibly top 3, most severe crises episodes globally since the mid-nineteenth century.

The World Bank estimates that in 2020 real GDP contracted by 20.3%, on the back of a 6.7% contraction in 2019.

"Lebanon faces a dangerous depletion of resources, including human capital, and high skilled labour is increasingly likely to take up potential opportunities abroad, constituting a permanent social and economic loss for the country," Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director, said.

"Only a reform minded government, which embarks upon a credible path toward economic and financial recovery, while working closely with all stakeholders, can reverse further sinking of Lebanon and prevent more national fragmentation."