News ID: 271364
Published: 0224 GMT July 11, 2020

Lebanese hold raucous rally outside US Embassy in Beirut

Lebanese hold raucous rally outside US Embassy in Beirut
AP

Dozens of Lebanese protesters held a harsh anti-US rally outside the fortified American Embassy in Beirut, denouncing what they said was Washington's interference in Lebanon's affairs while some chanted in support of the Hezbollah movement.

The crowd, made up of mostly men, on Friday hurled stones at riot police near the embassy, from which they were separated by layers of barbed wire. Some protesters tried to remove the wire, at which point they were sprayed with water cannons, AP reported.

The protesters burned American flags and mock-up dollar bills, calling the US the “mother of terrorism.” The riot police eventually escorted the crowd away from the embassy area.

This is the second anti-US protest in Beirut this week amid strained US-Lebanese relations.

Hezbollah's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, recently blasted comments by US Ambassador Dorothy Shea criticizing his group and said Washington was seeking to turn public opinion against it.

Dozens of Lebanese also protested Wednesday near the Beirut airport, on the day Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of the United States Central Command, visited Lebanon. The protesters denounced his visit and chanted “Death to America.”

Lebanon is facing its worst economic and financial crisis, which has triggered anti-government protests and created domestic political tension between rival groups.

Tens of thousands have lost their jobs or part of their salaries, while a crippling dollar shortage has sparked spiraling inflation.

 

'Spiraling out of control'

 

The UN rights chief warned Friday, the country's economic crisis is getting out of hand, calling for urgent internal reforms coupled with international support to prevent further mayhem.

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said the social fabric of Lebanon was at risk as vulnerable populations are threatened with extreme poverty, AFP reported.

"This situation is fast spiraling out of control, with many already destitute and facing starvation as a direct result of this crisis," she said in a statement.

"The alarm has been sounded, and we must respond immediately before it is too late."

For months, the Mediterranean country has grappled with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Tens of thousands have lost their jobs or part of their salaries, while a crippling dollar shortage has sparked spiraling inflation.

Bachelet said an unemployment crisis would propel poverty and indebtedness with "grave implications" in a country with fragile social nets.

She said vulnerable Lebanese, along with 1.7 million refugees, were increasingly unable to meet their basic needs, as were 250,000 migrant workers, many of whom have lost their jobs or been left homeless.

"Their situation will only get worse as food and medical imports dry up," the former Chilean president said.

"As we respond to this pandemic and the socioeconomic crisis, we must include and protect everyone, regardless of their migration or other status."

Economic woes last year sparked mass protests in Lebanon against a political class deemed irretrievably corrupt.

The Lebanese pound, officially pegged at 1,507 pounds to the greenback, reached more than 9,000 to the dollar last week on the black market in a dizzying devaluation.

 

   
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