A World Bank report released in May 2021 said: “Lebanon’s financial and economic crisis is likely to rank in the top 10, if not all three, of the world’s worst crisis episodes since the mid-19th century. “. The situation has not improved since.
The locals see themselves living in an economic hell, and emigration seems to be the perfect solution. Out of desperation, thousands of passport applications are filed daily with the Lebanese General Security services. Canada, Australia, France, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Ivory Coast – any country is now considered a better option.
Andros Ghannam, a 31-year-old Lebanese Christian who left the Middle Eastern republic to work in Luxembourg, told ACI MENA, the CNA’s Arabic-speaking partner agency for the Middle East and North Africa, why he joined the exodus.
“The fall in our purchasing power, the constant political and security threat, the social instability, the failure of the October 2019 protests to bring about sufficient change and the whole perspective of the country after the explosion in the port of Beirut were decisive for me to emigrate,” he said.
As for the religion of the migrants, there is not enough evidence to suggest that Christians leave at higher rates than Muslims, although the explosion in Beirut mainly affected the Christian quarter of the capital, dislocating more Christians than Muslims.
Two years after the explosion, the investigation into its cause continues. “Today, the investigation into the explosion at the port of Beirut is in a ‘coma’. High-level politicians are blocking it,” Mireille Khoury, who lost her 15-year-old son Elias and was injured along with her daughter in the blast, told ACI MENA.
“We have lost all hope in this national investigation,” she added. The investigation has been stalled for eight months. The families of the victims are now calling for an international investigation.
“During the 1975 Lebanese civil war, Christians were not forced to migrate in as many numbers as they are today,” Mireille noted.
“I lost my childhood and my youth during the war. But I decided to stay at the time. Now I don’t want my daughter or my future grandchildren to stay in this country,” she said.
The future of Lebanese Christians
Since Christian families tend to have fewer children than Muslim families, each Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant family that leaves the country is considered to have an impact on the future of the country’s Christian community.
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With fewer financial means, birth rates are already falling. Young Lebanese adults think twice before getting married and families are more reluctant to have babies.
Asma Fahl Yared, a Christian Lebanese resident who married in 2021 and had her first daughter in August 2022 after complications in childbirth, told ACI MENA: “In the hospital, our newborn is is being denied treatment unless we pay $1,000 in cash first,” said a sum that few can afford in Lebanon at this time.
She added: “Like most families, we are struggling to buy formula and medicine for our daughter. I believe in divine providence. God will take care of us. But, I am convinced now that raising a child is enough. It’s already very difficult to raise just one!
If Christians adopt a one-child family mentality, the remaining community will begin to collapse demographically in the following decades.
Another challenge faced by the baptized community is that of the elderly alone. When one is older, emigrating or finding a job abroad is more difficult, and since almost every Christian family now has at least one emigrant among its members, more elderly family members are left alone in a country where they cannot retire decently.