Lebanon's fuel crisis worsens amid economic, political hardships

Beirut, Sept. 2, (dpa/GNA) - Lebanon's fuel shortage is exacerbating day after day as the country is roiled by a deteriorating economic crisis and a political impasse.







Long queues of cars stretched near petrol stations in the capital Beirut and its suburbs on Thursday, fuelling motorists' impatience.

"During the civil war [1975-1990] we did not witness such a fuel crisis," Mohammed Mali, a taxi driver, told dpa.

The crippling shortage has prompted the United Nations to allocate 10 million dollars to provide much-need supplies to Lebanon's hospitals and water plants.

The allocation will help 2.3 million people across Lebanon by making sure there is enough fuel to keep water stations functioning, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Some 65 hospitals will also benefit from the allocation, the office added in a statement.

Marc Ayoub, an energy researcher in the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, said the UN allocation would help secure a one or two week maximum supply of fuel to Lebanon.

The fuel crisis deepened when Lebanon's central bank started lifting state subsidies in August to secure its dwindling foreign currency reserves. The shortage has led to severe power cuts in the country.

Last month, Hassan Nasrallah, chief of the Lebanese pro-Iranian Hezbollah movement, said an Iranian fuel tanker would head to Lebanon to help ease the shortage.

On Thursday, Al Akhbar, a Lebanese daily close to Iran and Hezbollah, said the Iranian tanker had reached neighbouring Syria's territorial waters.

Lebanon is in the grip of a political deadlock as wrangling among rival factions has hampered the formation of a new reformist government since October.
GNA