Prior to the financial crisis of 2019, Lebanon was known as the “Switzerland of the Middle East” for its robust banking industry, therefore the ongoing shortage of the food staple has been difficult to bear.
2020 saw Lebanon’s sovereign debt default, and since then, the currency has lost about 90% of its value on the illegal market.
The financial crisis has been dubbed one of the worst since the 19th century by the World Bank, and the United Nations currently estimates that four out of every five Lebanese are living below the poverty line.
The struggling government has been obliged to withdraw subsidies on the majority of necessities, but not yet on wheat, in response to demands from international creditors for painful reforms in exchange for the release of additional aid.
Although less than it would have been without the subsidy, the cost of subsidised bread has increased, and bakers have begun rationing the essential.
Currently, a package of flat Arabic bread that resembles pitas costs 13,000 Lebanese pounds (43 US cents). Over 30,000 is what it sells for on the illegal market.
The 48-year-old Mansour claimed, “Last week I went without bread for three days because I cannot afford to pay 30,000.”
Mansour and the majority of Lebanese must wait hours in line outside bakeries to buy bread, and occasionally by the time their turn comes, the bakeries are out of bread.
“I waited in line for three hours today and 2.5 hours yesterday. Next, what?” Mansour stated on Friday in front of a bakery in Beirut.