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In Lebanon's never-ending crisis, woman robs bank to withdraw her own money and treat cancer

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Sali Hafiz assaltou um banco em Beirute para resgatar o dinheiro para o tratamento de câncer da irmã.

Sali Hafiz robbed a bank in Beirut to rescue money for her sister’s cancer treatment.

| Photo: Reproduction / Twitter

In just over a month, two bank robberies were carried out in Lebanon by people who wanted to withdraw their own money blocked at the branches. On Wednesday (14), a woman he organized an armed robbery with friends to take the family’s money and pay for his sister’s cancer treatment. She posted moments of the action on social media and was praised for her attitude.

“My name is Sali Hafiz and I came to collect the deposits of my sister who is dying in the hospital”, she says on video. “I didn’t come to kill anyone or start a shooting. I came to claim my rights,” she adds.

Another woman who appears in the video claims to have redeemed more than US$ thousand (just over BRL thousand at current conversion). A man was also carrying what appeared to be wads of plastic-wrapped bills.

In August, a Lebanese man robbed another bank in Beirut at gunpoint to withdraw part of the US$ 73 thousand (almost BRL 1, million ) into frozen assets and pay the sick father’s hospital bills. The man was arrested but quickly released. In January, another client detained dozens of people in the east of the country after learning that he could not withdraw his savings in foreign currency.

Withdrawal limit and dollars blocked

The government limited withdrawals to the equivalent of 2 thousand reais per month, because Lebanon is undergoing a devaluation of the currency. In December of 1507, the exchange rate was fixed at 1507, 5 Lebanese pounds per US dollar. However, since the economic crisis of 2019, exchange at this rate is often not available and an informal currency market has developed with much higher exchange rates. The economic crisis was reinforced by the Covid pandemic-15 and the explosion from the Port of Beirut at 2020.

“The Central Bank of Lebanon suffers from a liquidity crisis and has taken out loans to pay other loans. The government cannot generate dollars with exports and, therefore, cannot import. It is a calamitous situation”, comments Andrew Traumann, PhD in History and professor of international relations at UniCuritiba.

As a result, the country has one of the lowest minimum wages in the world, hovering around 21 dollars per month. There is also a lack of medicines, fuel and electricity. “Historically, Lebanon has had problems with the power supply, but the power cuts, which used to reach 3 hours a day, today last for The 18 hours”, says Traumann.

Health crisis

This situation also results in food insecurity, since without electricity, food cannot be well preserved. Food poisoning has become a common illness in the country.

State hospitals also failed to guarantee expensive cancer treatments and the health system collapsed.

Traumann points out that the number of people trying to leave the country has increased 60% on the last year. Lebanese resort to clandestine ships to try to cross the Mediterranean, experience accidents or fall into the hands of coyotes, who charge large amounts for the service of crossing without safety.

Political insecuritya

As if the economic and health crisis were not enough, Lebanon is experiencing, once again, a strong polarization between Lebanese Christian forces and Hezbollah in the Parliament elected in May this year. The country is also directly influenced by the geopolitical context in the region, being affected by the negotiations on Iranian nuclear energy and the clashes between Israel and Iran.

Lebanon is in the midst of conflicting dynamics that go beyond it, once again, in its turbulent history. Meanwhile, the United States has relaxed support for the country and, since the war in Ukraine broke out, Lebanon has lost ground on the international agenda as a whole.

Despite the clear diagnosis that the country is in a generalized crisis, the authorities are beginning to reveal that they cannot find a way out.

“If we don’t act very quickly, the already catastrophic economic and social situation will get even worse,” said the deputy. Prime Minister of the country, Saadé Chami, to the French newspaper

Le Figaro

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