Lebanon has been left without electricity. The country’s two largest power stations, Deir Ammar and Zahrani, had shut down because of a fuel shortage.It is unlikely to restart for several days the power grid. This have put hospitals and essential services in crisis mode. A lack of foreign currency has made it hard to pay overseas energy suppliers. For the past 18 months Lebanon has alreadyendured an economic crisis and extreme fuel shortages. People were often receiving just two hours of electricity a day in the country before this latest shutdown. Protests occurred in the northern town of Halba, outside the offices of the state power company, as well as residents blocking roads with burning tyres in the city of Tripoli. Swathes of the country are now facing water rationing as well. The pumping stations are powered by diesel, and lack the supplies they need to function.
Power cuts are not unusual in Lebanon – the country hasn’t had 24/7 electricity for decades. Now the private generators became the only source of power. But they run on diesel, which is hard to find. The crisis was politically exploited. Last month the militant group Hezbollah brought Iranian fuel into the country to ease shortages. Its opponents say the group is using the fuel delivery to expand its influence. On Saturday, distributors of gas canisters used for cooking and heating stopped operating. The new Lebanese government is also negotiating supplies of electricity from Jordan and natural gas from Egypt, also through Syria. But those deals are likely to take months.