Lebanon Update

A couple days ago I mention the village of Ghajar in Southern Lebanon.  The village has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war.  Recent reports said that Israel was planning on pulling out by the end of next month.  Now these reports are being refuted.  Instead, there have been rumors of drawing an arbitrary line through the village, effective creating an Israeli Ghajar and a Lebanese Ghajar.  Israel is apparently considering compensating those who would want to move from the Lebanese north to the Israel south.

There are people in the village who have lived their entire lives ‘in Israel’ so I understand the desire to remain Israeli.  Yet, there are also people in the village who were Lebanese and have view the village as being occupied for the last 40+ years.  So I understand the transfer of the village back to Lebanon.  I do not understand splitting the town in two.  It seems like it would create more trouble.

In other news, the schism between the poor and rich in Lebanon is (still) outstanding:

(a)    28% of the Lebanese are poor and 8% are in extreme poverty.

(b)   Extreme poverty is measured as $2.4 per day i.e. under $900 per annum per person.

(c)    20 % of the Lebanese live in between the poverty lines.

(d)   Both extreme poverty and even total poverty are rather evenly distributed.

(e)   The Gini coefficient ; a measure of economic equality; was estimated to be around  0.37  which is the average Gini for MENA (Middle East & North Africa )

(f)     All Lebanese could be lifted out of extreme poverty at the relatively small cost of $12 per Lebanese per annum; less than $50 million.

(g)    The top 20% of the Lebanese consume over 6 times what the bottom 20% consumes. (43% vs. 7%)

(h)   Regionally the residents of the North were the poorest followed by the South, Bekaa, Mount Lebanon and then Beirut.

(i)      The median per capita annual level of consumption for the year 2004-5 was estimated to be $2067.

Fast forward to the New Year celebration planned to take place on New Years Eve 2009 at Solidere in Beirut. The price of admission to have a seat by the dancing floor, a 3 course dinner and an open bar will set one back by $5500.00. (Yes the price of joining the festivities is five thousand five hundred dollars in case you thought that was a misprint). Now go back and take a look at item (i) in the list above and cry.

The sad news is, per usual, Palestinian.  I have a feeling that the Palestinians, who are refugees and denied naturalization, are not considered in those statistics.  I could be wrong, but they are typically left out of population statistics.  If they aren’t included, then you must add another 400,000 people to the poor or impoverished.

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