Lebanon’s economic crisis has led to a collapse of the local currency and purchasing power, plunging whole segments of society into poverty.
Earlier this year, Lebanon defaulted on its debt and, while the peg to the dollar remains unchanged, the pound has since nosedived on the black market.
In a country so heavily reliant on imports, the blow is huge, and thousands of businesses were doomed even before the coronavirus lockdown shuttered the economy.
The crisis is sounding the death knell of a middle class that is sliding under the poverty line, where half of the population now is, according to World Bank estimates.
A far cry from the country’s erstwhile image as the “Switzerland of the Middle East”, fabled for its nightlife and entrepreneurial genius, a class of destitute Lebanese is emerging across the country.
Holding her fridge door open, Fadwa Merhebi explains she already downsized once because she could not afford enough food to fill it up.
Now it contains only a bottle of mineral water and two cucumbers.
“If there were smaller fridges on the market, I would sell this one and buy a smaller one,” says the 60-year-old, who lives alone in a tiny flat in Tripoli.
“At least I could use the money to buy something to eat.”