Hit by a cataclysmic blast and daily spikes in COVID-19 cases, Lebanon is crippled by the impact of multiple shocks which have exhausted its economy and caused an unprecedented increase in its headcount poverty rate.

Estimates reveal that more than 55% of the country’s population is now trapped in poverty and struggling for bare necessities, i.e., almost double last year’s rate which was 28%. Extreme poverty has registered a threefold increase from 8% in 2019 to 23% in 2020. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) today sounds the alarm in a new policy brief entitled “Poverty in Lebanon: Impact of Multiple Shocks and Call for Solidarity.”

The brief indicates that the total number of poor among the Lebanese population is currently about 2.7 million, taking the upper poverty line as reference (i.e., the number of people living on less than $14 a day). There is thus a significant erosion of the middle class, with middle-income earners now forming less than 40% of the population. The affluent group has also shrunk to a third of its size, from 15% to 5% of the population over the past year… more