12/03/2019, 08.51
LEBANON
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Bekaa, father commits suicide because he cannot feed his children

by Pierre Balanian

Naji Diab Al Fliti, 40, was unemployed and didn't even have 50 cents in his pocket to pay for his daughter's school snack. The country is in full economic collapse: hunger, unemployment and high prices are raging. According to the World Bank, in 2020 over 50% of the Lebanese population will live below the poverty line.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The whole country is in shock at the news that a family man committed suicide on Sunday 1 December, victim of the acute economic crisis and the failure of the state to guarantee a minimum of social assistance to the most deprived.

Naji Diab Al Fliti, 40 (see photo), belonged to one of the most numerous clans of Arsal (north Bekaa), sadly famous for being the Lebanese territory that fell under the rule of Daesh, later freed by the Lebanese army and Hezbollah.

A father of two, six-year-old Ranim and one-year-old Mohammed, Naj was laid off work two months ago, and could not even pay for the medical treatment of one of his two wives suffering from cancer. In the country, cancer medicines are not only not guaranteed by the health system, but are sold by medicine cartels at prices three times larger higher than in Turkey, from where they are imported.

In order to feed his family, Naji had to go into debt, buying food from the store near his home. But in the last few days, the shop owner refused to continue to give him credit as the debt had reached 700,000 Lebanese pounds (about $ 350). The straw that broke the camel's back came the next morning, when his daughter Ranim asked him for 1000 Lebanese pounds (50 cents) to buy a manouché (a small pizza with thyme and sesame) as a snack at school. But Naji didn't even have the 1000 lire in his pocket to give to his daughter. The day before, Naji had not been able to buy milk from his one-year-old son. The six-year-old daughter now feels guilty for asking her mother to give her 1,000 lire to buy the snack; her mother feels guilty for having sent her daughter to her father, who replied with tears in her eyes: "I don't have what you ask".

Resigned, his daughter had turned her back and left with her mother. But Naji could not stand the humiliation. When she returned home, his wife found him hanging from a rope. Naji's sister said that the night before her brother had come to visit her, but had not asked for her help even though he needed to buy the fuel for the stove, necessary to fight the first signs of cold. The sister who had sensed his sadness said he always replied with the same lie: "My stomach hurts".

The Naji’s death has shaken the inhabitants of Arsal who as soon as they discovered suicide, gathered in protest outside the town hall, blaming this misery on the various "assassin" governments who have ruled Lebanon since the end of the civil war onwards.

Lebanon is in full economic collapse and hunger is raging, along with unemployment, lack of jobs, high prices due to the devaluation of the Lebanese lira against the dollar.

According to recent data from the World Bank, in 2020 over 50 percent of the Lebanese population risks having to live below the poverty line; 59.64% of bank accounts in the country have balances lower than $ 3,300; unemployment affects between 40 and 60% of the workforce. Especially the young - among whom there are 30 thousand recent graduates - many think that emigrating is the only salvation.

Data from the Central Bank of Lebanon, obtained by AsiaNews, shows that 8% of depositories or 24 thousand current accounts, are holders of 51% of the total deposits, or about 85 billion dollars. Instead, 1.75 million other depositaries together hold less than a billion dollars.

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