Lebanon, the former “Switzerland of the Middle East”, stands on the brink of becoming a failed state. Years of civil war, border conflicts and corrupt government has left the country bankrupt and spiralling into chaos. The Beirut port explosion reduced the capital to tatters and exposed the utter failure of sectarianism politics. Lebanon now finds itself more vulnerable than ever to foreign influence, once again a key stake for international powers playing out their broader ambitions across the Mideast. But in this deeply divided country, a young generation is ready to battle for reform.
At the supermarkets in Beirut, hyperinflation has led to the food changing price every day. Lilian, 24, hoped to become a diplomat but the economic crisis forced her to quit her studies. Now she is has joined the protest movement and pawns her clothes to buy food. The man most people blame for this desperate situation is Riad Salameh, head of the central bank for the past three decades and accused of embezzling close to a billion dollars. The IMF and World Bank has offered to bail out Lebanon if the central bank opens up its account books. Something that Salameh – with the support of the whole political class – absolutely refuses to do.
Yet economic collapse isn’t the only cause of the country’s woes. In southern Lebanon, safety risks along the border with Israel are a main source of instability. This is a stronghold for Hezbollah, which operates as a state within a state, providing for every aspect of daily life in exchange for absolute loyalty. Further north, the Bekaa valley is the other Hezbollah stronghold. But it is also home to one of Lebanon’s most serious problems the Syrian refugee crisis. The mass arrival of 1.5 million Syrian refugees has further destabilised a nation long distrustful of Syria. Everything is done to hide the Syrian problem. Large international NGO are prevented from working here and the refugees themselves, like 12 year old Abdelfateh, are forced to slave long hours to survive.
No population census has been held for decades in Lebanon to avoid threatening the fragile balance of sectarian powers. But the sunnis are convinced they form the largest section of the population.They feel oppressed and increasingly look towards Saudi Arabia or Turkey’s Muslim brotherhood for help. But despite everything, people like Lilian are determined to confront these endemic problems. “My destiny is to stay here and engage in political action…. The proverb “Lebanese love life” is very true, we love life despite everything!”
We follow the lives of four members of the Lebanese Christian elite. In one of the world´s most politically unstable countries, they are a symbol of the former “Switzerland of the Middle East” – the last representatives of a golden age they are reluctant to give up.More info