His country mired in crises, Lebanese leader calls for help

UN General Assembly

BEIRUT (AP) — The reverberations of terrorism across the oceans and war in their own neighborhood have left Lebanon and its fellow nations in the Middle East struggling with the consequences, Lebanon’s president said Friday, calling for international help to save his own crisis-hit country.

With Lebanon mired in an unprecedented economic and financial meltdown, President Michel Aoun told the U.N. General Assembly's meeting of world leaders that the country could not rise without assistance from the global community.

Lebanon is in the grips of multiple crises that exploded in succession beginning in late 2019, largely caused by decades of corruption and mismanagement by the country's ruling class. A currency crash has plunged about three quarters of the population into poverty in the past year and triggered a brain drain not seen since its 1975-90 civil war days.

That has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic and a massive explosion at the port of Beirut in August 2020 that killed more than 200 people and destroyed parts of the city. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighboring Syria have put an additional strain on the tiny Mediterranean country.

The international community has refused to offer financial assistance before Lebanese leaders undertake critical reforms and stamp out endemic corruption.

Aoun described the recent formation of a new government in Lebanon after more than a year of political paralysis a “promising step on the road to recovery,” and appealed for the world’s help.