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Lebanon signs fuel deal with Iraq to boost faltering power supply

The economic crisis in Lebanon has impacted all sectors, leading to power shortages across the country
A member of staff works at the generator room of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital amid crippling power shortages (AFP)

Iraq signed an agreement on Saturday to provide the Lebanese government with 1 million tonnes of heavy fuel oil a year in return for goods and services, amid a crippling economic crisis in Lebanon.

Iraq's oil ministry said in a statement that it would supply Lebanon with surplus heavy fuel oil from its refineries. 

The dwindling economy in Lebanon has had a widespread impact on all sectors and has threatened further political instability in the country.

The Lebanese currency has lost 90 percent of its value, with many people unable to afford basic necessities.

In recent weeks, there has been a growing shortage of fuel, medicine and other basic goods. 

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Lebanon’s caretaker energy minister, Raymond Ghajar, said the fuel would be used for electricity generation and would be enough for four months. 

Many people in the country have complained about the power shortages, with some having access to electricity for only a few hours a day.

Petrol station owners have been some of the worst-hit as a result of the crisis, as they need dollars to pay their suppliers. However, banks and exchange offices have drastically limited dollar sales out of fear of running out. 

Amidst the increased power shortages, many users have resorted to relying on private generators, although diesel, which is used to power the generators, is also now in short supply. 

The fuel and power shortages have had a devastating impact on hospitals in the country, with critical patients being put at risk. The rise of coronavirus cases in the country has also overwhelmed hospitals.

Lebanon has been mired in an economic crisis since late 2019, a situation that has been exacerbated by a political deadlock.