Lebanon grinds to a halt as fuel crisis deepens

Hassan Khalife has had to downgrade from three refrigerators to one at his small barbeque joint in Beirut, which he powers via a line from a neighbor's generator, because the fuel that powers Lebanon has disappeared from the market.

"During the civil war, even with how horrible it was, there weren't any power cuts. There was water and jobs. What we are experiencing now is harsher than during the Lebanese civil war."

It’s the latest policy failure for a government already grappling with a financial crisis, while sparring with the central bank over its decision to end fuel subsidies -- a step that would spell sharply higher prices.

And while the stand-off continues, importers told Reuters the country faced a huge shortage of fuel.

This means Lebanese have sweltered at home in the summer heat without light or AC, tossing out the contents of fridges while having to set aside hours to fill up cars and generators - if gasoline can be found at all.

Bakeries, businesses, and hospitals are either scaling back operations or shutting down completely.

Souad Akl, general manager of Alfa Laboratories which produces medical essentials, says her factory shut down for the first time in almost 50 years this week.

Lebanon’s financial crisis erupted in late 2019, the result of decades of corruption and mismanagement by a ruling elite that has failed to find solutions as more than half the population sinks into poverty.

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