Lebanese students abroad become victims of financial crisis at home

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Islam News – BEIRUT (Reuters) reported – an insolvent banking system blocked out all depositors from their dollar accounts, defaulting Lebanon on its debts.

And of course not to mention the coronavirus pandemic which added a massive job loses.

Lebanese medical student Lara Mustafa faces eviction from Russia and the end of her dream of becoming a doctor if her parents, hit by Lebanon’s worst financial crisis in decades, cannot send her money to pay for rent and expenses.

“You can say that my parents sank into debt in order to be able to send me money,” Mustafa, 23, who is on a scholarship, told Reuters from Russia via Zoom.

Another abroad student, Wassim Hachem, 24, had to drop out from his fourth year of university in Russia to return to Lebanon and work as a delivery driver after his father, who lost his job, was no longer able to support him.

Nadia Moussa, mother of Wassim Hachem, said her focus was now on survival.

“Our dream now is to be able to eat, to put food on the table. Can we dream of anything else?”

Hachem and Mustafa are among thousands of university students caught up in Lebanon’s financial crisis.

It all started in 2019 with popular protests against leaders whom demonstrators blamed for corruption and mismanaging the economy.

Some parents of the thousands of Lebanese students abroad have been protesting outside the Banque du Liban (BDL), Lebanon’s central bank.

They insist the central bank forces commercial banks to implement a government decree to allow families with students abroad to transfer up to $10,000 a year at the official exchange rate of 1,500 Lebanese pounds to the dollar to cover tuition and expenses.

Until now parents and students say the law is being ignored, with banks and exchange dealers refusing to make transfers at the set rate and instead demanding the market rate, currently around 8,300 Lebanese pounds.

Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh told Reuters that “the law needs applications decrees from the government not from BDL.” Officials at the Lebanese banking association could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lebanese politicians are trying to secure foreign aid to help them reduce huge debts, but they have yet to carry out the reforms that potential donors are demanding.

‘I LOST EVERYTHING’

Mohammad Kassar, 22, was into his fifth year of medicine in Ukraine, aiming to become a general practitioner, when he was forced to return home in May because his father, whose furniture business went bust, was no longer able to transfer him money.

“It is a very harsh feeling to lose hope. In one year I lost all the five years I have invested in…I lost the past, the present and the future. I lost everything,” Kassar said.

In conclusion, Lebanon’s middle class is being squeezed, and, like many other Lebanese, Nidaa blames the government. That is now becoming a dream for all but the richest, who managed to keep enough of their wealth outside Lebanon.

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