According to a study by the International Labor Organization (ILO), economic hardship caused by lockdowns has made life harder for the self-employed, refugees, women and youths who are already among the most vulnerable groups in Arab countries.
Pre-existing inequalities have been exacerbated said Tariq Haq, a specialist of employment policies at ILO. "When you look at the labour market - he said - the region is very fragmented, countries in conflict were already extremely vulnerable before the crisis and the pandemic is worsening economic pressure". At the end of 2021, Arab countries are projected to lose up to two million full-time workers.
Tariq explained, "Lebanon is an example where lockdowns have impacted the labour market". Between October and January, nearly 220,000 private-sector jobs were reportedly cut. Lockdown measures also affected the services sector, which employs 76% of Lebanon’s labour force. In catering, the closure of nearly 800 establishments between September and February left 35,000 people destitute.
In Tripoli, increasing tensions saw clashes break out during anti-lockdown protests resulting in one dead and over 220 injured, including about 30 soldiers and police officers.
Lebanon's economy contracted by 19% in 2020 and a further 13.2% is expected this year.
Photo by Marten Bjork