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Lebanon: Qatar to provide food aid for soldiers amid economic crisis

Announcement comes as Lebanon's caretaker prime minister calls on foreign donors to 'save' the lives of Lebanese people
Soldiers stand guard in the southern Lebanese town of Qlaile on 14 May 2021 (AFP)

Qatar will provide the Lebanese armed forces with 70 tonnes of food a month, the Qatari state news agency QNA reported, as Lebanon seeks financial aid to deal with a crushing economic crisis and political impasse.

Lebanon's army chief Joseph Aoun made an urgent request to world powers at a meeting in France last month to support soldiers whose wages have dramatically decreased in value with the collapse of the Lebanese pound. 

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani announced the donation in Beirut on Tuesday and urged Lebanese parties to form a new government to “achieve stability”. 

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The wage crisis facing the Lebanese army is deeply felt everywhere in the country. Lebanese people have also been struggling with shortages of essential goods and commodities, including gas and medicine.

The World Bank has called the financial situation in Lebanon the world's worst economic crisis since the 1850s.

Lebanon’s political deadlock has further complicated the financial situation in the country, with the international community demanding the formation of a new government and major reforms before unlocking aid.

However, despite international pressure, fractious politicians have been unable to agree on a cabinet line-up for almost 11 months.

On Tuesday, caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab warned that the country was "just days away from a social explosion", urging foreign donors at a conference in Beirut to “save” the Lebanese.

"Linking aid to Lebanon with government formation has started to threaten the lives of Lebanese," Diab told foreign envoys.

Lebanon's cabinet resigned after a massive blast at Beirut's port in August last year killed at least 200 people, and has been acting in a caretaker capacity since then. Meanwhile, the economic crisis in the heavily indebted country has worsened, with Lebanese people growing increasingly angry that no senior officials have yet been held accountable for the explosion.

Foreign donors have pledged millions of dollars in aid to Lebanese people at two international conferences, but stopped short of offering any assistance to the Lebanese state.