Lebanon | Violation | 22nd September 2021 | Virtual Wire
Picture -Human Rights Watch
The health facilities in Lebanon are nearing the brink due to the catastrophic fuel crisis destroying people's daily lives. The organizations are reaching out to authorities to stabilize the situation by asking them to prioritize the distribution of fuel in hospitals and control social rights.
The lack of fuel in hospitals led to the death of hundreds of people and including newborn babies due to the non-functioning of ventilators. Currently, it's crucial to take major steps due to increasing black marketing of fuels to capture the delinquent in the account. Heba Morayef, the Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa stated the necessity to address the humanitarian needs as more and more lives are ruined due to lack of fuel and about the prioritizing of health facilities and life-critical services.
On 11 August, Lebanon's Central Bank (BDL) publicly announced to discontinue the imports of fuel, which led to a tremendous hike in the gasoline and diesel rates indirectly affecting the loss majorly in the health care sector. In an attempt to balance the economic fall the government declared a 66% hike in the gas rates. This shortage of fuel worsened as the fuels have been smuggled across the borders of Syria to be sold in black markets at higher prices which were confirmed by a BDL bulletin by 14 August.
The bulletin also mentioned that BDL had already imported fuel worth $828 in July which would be enough for at least 3 months however the bank accepted that the fuel never reached the household, hospital, or food industries but instead was smuggled. This entire time, the military services across the Lebanon borders have confiscated millions of smuggled fuel whereas the hospitals in Lebanon were unable to function basic operations even for a month.
Even when the American University of Beirut Medical Centre (AUBMC) along with other hospitals mentioned the stressful situations to the authorities regarding the risk involved with the patient's life due to lack of fuel, the authorities failed to take any action regarding the same. If a shutdown was reinforced due to the fuel shortage 40 adult patients and 15 children would die immediately. The hospitals were surviving on the supplies of private donors and companies.
The hospitals had stopped elective surgery and all the amenities for the patients from weak financial backgrounds. Not only was it difficult for the hospitals to function but also for the staff to travel due to lack of diesel. To date, millions of people have died or been injured due to stockpiling of fuel in residential areas. A fuel tank exploded in a village of the Northern district of Akkar. It's a wake-up call for the Lebanese authorities to take any action and investigate to ensure the safety of the health rights of the individuals. Strict rules need to be imposed in cases involving smuggling or hoardings.