Food prices across Lebanon are skyrocketing as the country experiences its worst economic crisis in decades.
Many Muslim families in Lebanon are struggling to afford iftar, dinner that breaks the daily fast pace of Ramadan, as food prices soar amid the country’s worst. Economic Crisis for decades.
“Prices are crazy and they go even higher during the Ramadan month… a salad will cost six times this year,” Beirut resident Um Ahmed told Al Jazeera.
“What do we do? Are we begging? We’re not used to begging.”
Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut, says that “for the millions of people in Lebanon, food is becoming a luxury”.
She said that while Ramadan is a milestone for Muslims, there are “a few signs” that mark the occasion in many neighborhoods of Beirut.
“Gone are the lights, decorations and vending stalls with traditional drinks that are staples on the iftar table.”
Lebanon’s economy and currency fall in freefall, reducing the purchasing power of its people.
The Lebanese pound fell to 10,000 against the US dollar in early March, and by the end of the month it fell to levels 15,000 unprecedented. The coin has lost about 90% of its value since the end of 2019.
Ahmed, a greengrocer, said: “Those who used to buy a kilo of vegetables bought half, while others bought each part… some just left after knowing the price,” says Ahmed, a greengrocer know.
‘Prices have skyrocketed’
A month of iftar meals for a family of five is now estimated to cost two and a half times the $ 60 minimum wage at the black market rate.
Lebanon imports most of its food and there is a shortage due to a run out of dollars in the government.
“Our wages haven’t changed, but prices have skyrocketed,” said Hana Sader, a resident.
Although wheat is subsidized by the government, the price of bread has also gone up.
Buying a pack of bread every day for a month costs more than 10% of the minimum wage.
Charities have had to expand their efforts to help those in need, as the unemployment rate in the nation of 5 million has increased.
Maya Terro, is the co-founder of FoodBlessed, an organization that feeds about 1,600 families each month.
“They say if they don’t get the food box this month, it means we either don’t have the iftar or we have to eat half of the money,” she told Al Jazeera.
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated socioeconomic inequality, with more than half of Lebanese families living in poverty.
Last month, protests swept over throughout Lebanese towns and cities, with protesters setting up barricades on major highways.
Furthermore, one political deadlock is intensifying Lebanon’s woes as Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun continue to contradict the creation of a new government and how ministries are distributed.