The Lebanese are suffering from severe electricity rationing, which in many areas exceeds the threshold of 20 hours per day, due to the severe shortage of the country’s stocks of fuel, which has led to a significant decrease in the production of electricity generation plants, which is already low in relation to the country’s need.
At the same time, the diesel fuel outage led to the suspension of the private generators that the Lebanese used to subscribe to to cover the hours of chronic electricity rationing.
This crisis has created a phenomenon of internal displacement in the country, which began about two weeks ago, and has worsened in the past days, to escape the darkness and heat, and in pursuit of electricity and fuel, as the Lebanese host each other, friends and relatives, each according to the hours of electrical feeding, and the generators that are still operating in the country. regions, or according to the proximity of workplaces and gas stations.
Temperatures in Beirut exceed 34 degrees Celsius, with high humidity, which makes sleeping at night almost impossible in homes that depend on electricity for conditioning and cooling. Everyone who narrated their experience to Al-Hurra agrees that the night hours are the most difficult during the day, as they fought, without An exception is the experience of spending one or two nights without sleep, due to the extreme heat, and they expressed it with different analogies.
Hiam, for example, woke up feeling “in a sauna,” while Ali describes his experience by saying that he was “drenched in his own sweat.” Najwa, on the other hand, was more affected by darkness, as in her bed she felt “in a closed tomb.”
Ali Muawiya, 38 years old, was forced to move with his family from his home in the Furn El Chebbak area to a friend’s house in Ashrafieh, where the owner of the private generator still owns a specific stock of fuel oil, through which he feeds his subscribers with electricity.
This stock in Achrafieh did not last long. Only two days later, Ali and his friend moved to a relative’s house in the Airport Road area. The building has its own electric generator, and 3 families are now living in one house to escape the darkness and heat.
In his interview with Al-Hurra, Ali tells how he and his friends share the costs of buying the diesel fuel needed by the electric generator, and how he spends half his day searching for the “lost substance” from the Lebanese markets, where he secures it from the black market where it is sold at prices three times higher than the price. the official.
The price of a diesel fuel tank in Lebanon is 57,500 pounds, but obtaining it at this price has become impossible due to the shortage of the material and its monopoly operations that raised the price of a diesel fuel tank in Lebanon to 140,000 pounds, while the Lebanese state is still unable to import additional quantities to feed the market, due to The Banque du Liban did not open the necessary import credits, as a result of the severe weakness in securing dollars for this.
Lebanon is experiencing a stifling crisis, with which the exchange rate of the dollar against the Lebanese pound has risen more than 10 times, which has made it more difficult to obtain the dollar and its scarcity in the markets as a result of the loss of confidence in the national currency, and the resort to the US as a fixed guarantee.
The economic crisis in Lebanon is considered one of the worst and most complex crises in history, according to a World Bank report, which was reflected in the Lebanese interior in the form of a severe social crisis, after a significant doubling in the prices of food commodities and basic materials such as fuel and medicines, and poverty rates exceeded 55% of the population, while the proportion of Unemployment exceeds 40%.
Hiyam, lives in the Zahrani area in southern Lebanon and works in Beirut. She used to commute daily from her work to her place of residence, which is about 40 minutes away, in order to get away from the city’s crowds, and to save on renting a house in the south, which is less expensive than the capital.
Today, she lives with her brother in the southern suburbs of Beirut to be able to access her job as a nurse in Beirut due to the gasoline crisis, where she struggles to provide the material, both in terms of financial capacity due to the high prices of fuel, or because of the sufficient time to go through waiting queues, while the cost of transportation Transportation has become relatively expensive with no adjustments in wages in the country.
The minimum wage in Lebanon is 675,000 pounds, which before the financial collapse was equal to 450 dollars according to the official exchange rate (1500 pounds per dollar), but today it is equal to only 30 dollars, according to the exchange rate of the dollar on the black market.
From the governorates of the Bekaa Valley, the North, and Mount Lebanon, as is the case in the south, families and individuals began to move to live in the capital, or in reverse from the capital to their villages, each according to his priorities and place of work. And they were economical by moving between regions to the maximum extent, given the costs of transportation and transportation and the severe gasoline crisis, while the transportation tariff from the Bekaa to Beirut ranged between 5 thousand and 10 thousand (Hermel), the trip today is no less than 30 thousand pounds, and up to 50 thousand per trip. One round trip.
Najwa, a 30-year-old Lebanese woman working in the field of marketing and advertising, moved two weeks ago from Hamra, downtown Beirut, to the town of Rumaila, near Sidon, due to the continuous power cuts in Beirut for more than 20 hours a day, which reduced her productivity and impeded her. Most of her work is based on providing services “online”, especially after the Corona pandemic, which established the concept of remote work.
Najwa explains that “the administrative Beirut was not covered in the past by the long hours of rationing of electricity, like the ones that existed in the rest of the Lebanese cities and governorates, and on this basis I came from Sidon to it, and moved for electricity, but today it joined due to the acute crisis, and while the rest of the Lebanese regions were It had previously dealt with the old interruption and set up feeding networks from private generators, it was not the same in administrative Beirut, which exposed its people for long hours without an alternative, and paralyzed the city and the lives of its residents.
“We chase electricity to survive”
And because electricity represents a vital and key element for the continuation of human life in the 21st century, its interruption has become a threat to a large number of citizens on several levels, some of which threaten their stability, their daily routine, and their professional life, and others reach the point of threatening their lives, as is the case with patients and owners Special health needs related to electricity, who are now resorting to public places such as mosques, restaurants and malls in order to operate breathing machines and charge health devices.
Najwa told Al-Hurra: “I work from my home, which requires me in the morning to be present at my computer and in contact with the work and management team, which requires internet and electricity, of course. Over the past month, my productivity has decreased by more than half due to the long hours of rationing. I resorted to the surrounding cafes at first, but today a cup of orange juice costs 30 thousand pounds, and a cup of coffee 15 thousand pounds, and with a duration of more than 6 hours, sitting in a cafe costs me about 100 thousand pounds, and this is not acceptable in relation to my income from work, add In addition, the diesel outage later imposed a power outage even on generators for interests, cafes and restaurants, and I returned to the zero point.”
And she continues, “Whether you work or not, your income is in pounds or dollars. The same is true in Beirut. The crisis has gone beyond individual income and is at a more advanced stage where no one gets services because the sectors have already collapsed, so I had no choice but to leave the city, I am currently a human being.” Electricity chasing.
For her part, Katia told Al-Hurra the story of her displacement from her home in Tripoli to the home of her friend Nicole in Jounieh, due to the city being cut off from electricity for days on end, while Katia suffers from asthma attacks that worsen with high temperatures and humidity.
Katya returned to her home after she was in Beirut at midnight on Friday, and during her use of the electric elevator the power was cut off and the generator in the building did not work due to the exhaustion of diesel. “I stayed trapped in an elevator after midnight, hitting the iron door so that the neighbors could hear me and do something, after about 20 minutes Hysterical One of the neighbors woke up and started talking to me, until the rest woke up and the attendant went up to the 8-storey building, another 20 minutes had passed, and I was calm and waiting with a fit of shortness of breath trying to control it.
“I went out after they manually lifted the elevator, and I was starting to feel symptoms of an asthma attack, I rushed home to turn on the respirator, completely forgetting for a moment that the electricity was cut off, and when I entered the dark house I understood the situation,” Katya says, “I carried my things at the same moment, I took the respirators I left my house and drove back to Jounieh, where my friend is, and since Friday until today I have been staying there, because the electricity has not returned to the city stable, and I am not ready to risk my life in another such experience.”
In the past few days, the city of Tripoli has witnessed a wave of protests and road cuts in the city, due to the power outage. The city has also witnessed a new phenomenon that may carry security dimensions, represented by the intense shooting in the air in different areas of the city at a simultaneous expression of protest after all were extinguished. special generators.
Al-Hurra website also contacted Katia’s friend Nicole, who in turn has been sleeping in Katia’s house for several nights over the past weeks, because she is close to a gas station that provides a special filling service for the residents of the neighboring building and some neighbors, and Katia helps her with that at least twice a week, Accordingly, you see, “one of the rare benefits of the crisis is that it has increased people’s solidarity and solidarity, even at the level of a can of petrol, electricity and diesel. This is the nature of our new suffering.”
Anxiety and lack of solutions
“I slept twice in 5 days, I suffer from insomnia and worry about everything that is going on around us.” Katya says, “I am afraid of waking up to a blackout, I feel like running away every time the house lights go out due to a power outage, forced to give up stability in order to survive, my friends ran from the city to nature so that they could sleep, and others on the balconies and rooftops.”
“I suffer from great anxiety about my future, my productivity and the continuity of my work,” Najwa says. “We have reached a catastrophic situation and things are deteriorating. She wakes up in extreme heat and sweats due to the power outage, which inevitably means cutting off the water that is transferred to the tanks of homes through electric pumps. We take a shower, let’s go out of the dark house to an expensive café, just to do my job, and for long trips, there is not enough gasoline for her.”
“For the first time in my life, I say that I suffered 4 years of severe depression, and I went through very harsh experiences, we lived wars and their psychological impact, today I am better on a personal level, but the general situation that I go through daily is the worst that I have experienced in my life, the form of people begging and eating from waste The prices of goods and the faces of people in the markets, the queues of humiliation at gas stations, the loss of medicines and infant formula, and the news of monopolists and investors in the crisis, all I want to leave this place has become. It was time to rest in our homes, and they forced us to leave it behind, leaving behind our basic needs.”