Lebanon: Emigration on the rise as country sinks deeper into its worst economic crisis
Samar’s husband Bilal used to earn 750,000 Lira a month as a lorry driver, around 500 USD dollars. But three months ago his salary was cut to 600,000 after his company started to struggle thanks to an economic downturn that’s hit Lebanon fast and hard. Their rent is 500,000 a month and the schooling for their 10-year-old triplets Moustapha, Fatme and Abbas, two of whom have special needs, costs 200,000. The numbers simply don’t add up.
SAMARThings are getting so much worse due to the economic situation. All the prices have increased. Rice was 5 kilos for 5,000 Lira, now a bag is 14,000.
Samar has tried to find work but no one will employ her because of a long-term injury. Meanwhile, they can barely afford the gas and electricity for their small apartment in Beirut’s Dahieh suburb. At breaking point, she believes the only way out is to try and emigrate to Canada, where there’s a large Lebanese emigrant population.
SAMAR The situation in unbearable. I’m depressed, from all the problems. I want to emigrate just for the kids. They tell me: mama maybe there it’s better, maybe there’s a special school for us and a special life for us.
STANDUP: Lebanon has the distinction of having more Lebanese living outside the country than in it. Rising household bills, shoddy infrastructure and sky-high unemployment are driving many to seek a life elsewhere. But with demand on the rise for resettlement, and strict criteria to qualify, these visas are increasingly hard to come by.
VO: Chawkat Dada is emigration consultant helping Lebanese families like the Al Sheikhs apply for resettlement visas in countries like Canada and Australia. Since the economic crisis began, he says the number of applicants coming to his Beirut office has gone up by more than 60%.
CHAWKAT DADA, Emigration ConsultantIn the last 3 months, the rush is too much. Many poor people. Due to the corruption and the demonstrations of the people in Lebanon all over, many many people are calling, I receive more than 100 calls per day.
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