HomeNow+PhotoThe desolate

The desolate

Angry protesters blocked roads in Corniche al Mazraa neighborhood of Beirut, as prices soared and the country faced medicine and fuel shortages.

Cars became backed up during the protest as they were unable to get through the roadblocks and, when they could, would have to turn around and find an alternative route. Photo: Nicholas Frakes, NOW.

Demonstrators blocked traffic in the Corniche el-Mazraa neighborhood of Beirut on Friday to protest the devaluing of the Lebanese pound, the drastic increase in prices and the deteriorating living conditions.

The protest came as pharmacies announced they were going on a strike due to medicine and baby formula shortages, motorists lined up for hours at gas stations across the country and the local currency hit the 15,000 LBP/$ threshold.

A man shouts in frustration with the situation in Lebanon as protesters block an intersection in Corniche el-Mazraa. Photo: Nicholas Frakes, NOW.
Protesters used dumpsters and their own motorcycles in order to ensure that no traffic, except for other motorcycles, is able to get through the intersection. Photo: Nicholas Frakes, NOW.

The protesters used their motorcycles and dumpsters to block off the intersection with police and the army directing oncoming cars away from the area.

Even as drivers honked their horns and yelled at the protesters to let them through, the men refused to move.

“We can’t get the basic things that we need for our kids,” Mohammed Shaeb, a protester blocking the road with his wife and child, told NOW. “For that reason, we came down to the streets and we will be here until there is a solution.”

While there was a heavy police and military presence at the protest, they did not try to clear the roadblocks and, instead, worked as traffic control, telling people to go back. Photo: Nicholas Frakes, NOW.
One of the many reasons for people blocking the road is that they cannot get the basic necessities for their children, such as milk if they have infants. Photo: Nicholas Frakes, NOW.

For many Lebanese, their ability to purchase basic necessities has been severely undercut by the economic crisis that worsens almost daily which sees the value of the lira continue to drop as prices continue to rise.

“Everything in Lebanon is imported,” another protester told NOW. 

“We don’t make anything except for fruits and vegetables. How does the world expect us to live? Milk for babies? There is none. Meat? There is none. Fruits and vegetables are expensive. If you want to buy clothes for your children, you can’t. If you want to buy clothes for yourself, you can’t.”

In a moment when a large number of cars approached one of the roadblocks, the protesters coalesced there to make sure that no one got through. Photo: Nicholas Frakes, NOW.
Protesters discussed the situation and what to do under an umbrella that they set up in the middle of the intersection. Photo: Nicholas Frakes, NOW.

The protester added that because of the crisis, the Lebanese people are “living like dogs” and cannot get gasoline for their cars and they hardly ever have electricity anymore.

“We can’t live in this situation,” Shaeb stated, a tinge of emotion causing his voice to break. “We can’t get food for our children. We can’t get milk for our children. We can’t get medicine for our children. How can we stay like this?”