A bank customer smashes the glass front of a bank in Beirut A bank customer smashes the glass front of a bank in Beirut  (ANSA)

Protests at banks in Lebanon as economic crisis continues

As instability continues, protesters in Lebanon have attacked several banks demanding their deposits be returned.

By Nathan Morley

Listen to Nathan Morley's report

The banking sector in Lebanon remains is in crisis.

On Thursday, tempers flared as angry depositors – frustrated at being denied access to their savings - targeted the Bank Audi, Bank of Beirut and Byblos Bank on the outskirts of the capital.

These attacks have been widely seen as acts of desperation by people anxious to settle bills and survive.

The political and economic crisis in the country has had a devastating effect on the Mediterranean nation, where the currency has been sinking since an economic crisis erupted three years ago.

The World Bank described the crisis as one of the world’s worst since the 19th century.

Over the last year, the free-falling Lebanese Pound, combined with withdrawal limits at banks, led to previous demonstrations and claims from angry customers who cannot access their deposits.

This calamity has been dragging on for years. In 2019, banks restricted withdrawals of dollars, when the value of the pound plunged and inflation surged.

The already difficult situation was further compounded by a massive blast in 2020 which wiped out Beirut port and the surrounding area.

The blast left billions of dollars of damage and caused hundreds of thousands of citizens to lose their jobs, sending the unemployment rate spiraling to over 40 percent.

The protests this week took place as parliament again failed to elect a president and break a political deadlock that has gripped the country.

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16 June 2023, 13:53