Lebanon’s armed forces 'need $100 million' to pay soldiers

Lebanon’s armed forces need 'immediate $100 million' to cover basic needs
2 min read
15 July, 2021
Lebanon's armed forces is in dire need of funds to cover the basic needs of soldiers, a general said.
Lebanon is facing a dire financial crisis [Getty]

A Lebanese general has revealed that the country’s armed forces need an immediate $100 million to cover soldiers’ basic needs, as the country falls further into financial chaos.

Brig. General Youssef Haddad said the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) pays what amounts to $84 per month (with the exchange rate at 15,500 Lebanese pounds to the US dollar).

However with a currency crash pushing that exchange rate to 20,000 on the black market, soldier salaries are falling below the poverty line.

Each soldier needs “an additional bonus to help him cover his basic needs on a monthly basis for 12 months,” Haddad told CNBC.

This amounts to around $100 million US dollars.

“The only thing that we can offer to the soldier is the peace of mind that we are here to protect your family, to ensure they have the adequate medical coverage and that the kids (can go) to school,” he added.

This isn’t the first time that a Lebanese general has expressed concerns over the future of the nation’s armed forces due to the economic meltdown.

Twenty nations agreed in June to provide emergency aid to the ailing Lebanese military, a French ministry said at the time, noting the army is "essential for the country's stability".

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The army is not looking for weapons but is unable to pay its troops enough to live on.

Milk, flour, medicine, fuel and spare parts were among the items on a shopping list drawn up by the military that adds up to millions of dollars.

In May, Commander Joseph Auon met with President Emmanuel Macron and explained that the armed forces were in jeopardy.

Members of Lebanon's armed forces have often had to take on additional work elsewhere, as their income's worth has lately plummeted by a factor of around five.

Aoun said his country's military was experiencing "a great crisis which is set to get worse", according to a statement following a meeting with French Chief of the Defence Staff François Lecointre.

The World Bank has labelled the crisis one of the world's worst since the 1850s, with the local currency losing more than 90 percent of its value on the black market.

It has eaten away at the value of soldiers' salaries and slashed the military's budget for maintenance and equipment.

Last year, the army said it had scrapped meat from the meals offered to on-duty soldiers due to rising prices.