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(Beirut) – lebanon Authorities have failed to uphold the right to electricity by mismanaging the sector for decades, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

127-page report, “‘Cut off from life itself’: Lebanon’s failure on the right to electricity,” argues that electricity is fundamental to almost every aspect of life and participation in current societies, and as such, being adequate, reliable, secure, without discrimination, an internationally protected right to an adequate standard of living This includes the right to clean, accessible and affordable electricity. Currently, the government provides only one to three hours of electricity a day on average, while those who can afford it can supplement that supply with private generators. public sector and private generator industries are dependent on polluting climate-intensive fossil fuels. The power crisis has exacerbated inequality in the country, severely limited people’s ability to realize their most basic rights, and Pushing them further into poverty.

“Lebanon’s electricity crisis is leaving people in the dark and dramatically reducing people’s access to vital rights such as food, water, education and health care,” said lama faqih, director of the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch. “The dire situation in Lebanon shows why access to safe, clean and affordable electricity is not just a convenience, but a human right that the state has an obligation to fulfill.”

For almost 30 years, Lebanese authorities have failed to properly manage the state-run electricity company, Electricite du Liban (EDL), resulting in widespread blackouts. The sector is set to collapse completely in 2021 amid an ongoing economic crisis caused by decades of unstable policies and fundamental neglect, elite capture of state resources, alleged corruption and vested interests, leaving the country without electricity for most days .

For decades, successive governments have promised reforms in the power sector, but those promises have not materialised. Instead of appointing members to an independent Electricity Regulatory Authority to guide the sector, as mandated by law, the Council of Ministers, particularly the Ministers of Energy and Water, exercise almost complete control over the sector with little transparency and accountability . The minister has control over issuing production licenses and permits, making policies regarding the sector, monitoring those policies, and providing financial oversight.

Politicians and politically connected individuals have used the power sector to further their political goals, including reaping huge profits from lucrative contracts in a government-run company, often at government expense, and profiting from the private generator market.

A lucrative, though expensive and highly polluting, private diesel generator market has been filling the supply gap for decades, but has been available only to those who can afford it. Static electricity in Lebanon has effectively become a service only the wealthiest can afford, reinforcing the country’s deep inequality and pushing people into poverty.

Since October 2019, Lebanon’s economy has been mired in a deep financial crisis, which culminated in the country’s first sovereign default in March 2020. The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the political deadlock and the August 2020 explosion at Beirut’s port exacerbated the recession and accelerated the collapse of the economy. Inflation increased to 145 percent On average, in 2021, Lebanon ranked third globally in terms of the highest inflation rate after Venezuela and Sudan. In June 2022, year-on-year inflation for electricity, gas and water reached almost 600 percent.

economic and power crisis Destroyed the livelihood of thousands of people, Unemployment, declining remittances, and the removal of subsidies for key imports have pushed millions into poverty and exacerbated existing poverty. United Nations It is estimated that more than two-thirds of Lebanon’s population now live in poverty.

Human Rights Watch partnered with the Consultation and Research Institute (CRI), a local research firm, to survey more than 1,200 households. which resulted in The extent to which the power crisis exacerbates inequality, pushes people into poverty, hinders access to basic rights such as food, water and health, and causes widespread air pollution that affects the environment and health and worsens Contributes to the climate crisis. Nine out of ten households surveyed said the cost of electricity affected their ability to pay for other essential services.

Access to a private or commercially operated generator that could fill the state electricity gap was dependent on income. Among the poorest 20 percent of households, one in five did not have access to a generator. In addition, low-income households spend a greater proportion of their income on generator bills than wealthier ones, putting pressure on the family budget and putting them at greater risk of falling behind on other essential expenses.

A high proportion of respondents said that a lack of electricity affected their ability to perform common entitlement-related household tasks such as obtaining water, cooking, or participating in education or work activities.

In addition to disproportionately harming low-income households, the Lebanese electricity system’s reliance on plants powered by heavy fuel oil and diesel generators causes significant air pollution that has a heavy impact on the environment and a significant impact on the health of Lebanese residents. has had an impact. killing thousands every year According to data from Greenpeace,

The Lebanese government has not invested in renewable sources of energy, even though it have guessed that Lebanon’s solar and wind resources can provide the country with many times more power. In 2019, the share of renewable energy Lebanon’s total electricity production was only 7.83 percent, of which only 0.73 percent was from solar power and only 1.82 percent from hydroelectricity.

Lebanese authorities are responsible for daily violations of residents’ rights to electricity, an adequate standard of living, education, health and a healthy environment due to the ongoing power crisis. Lebanese authorities must take immediate and immediate steps to ensure that all residents have access to a continuous, affordable and clean supply of electricity that does not contribute to the climate crisis, with a focus on increasing generation capacity from hydropower, wind and solar Give.

Human Rights Watch said that the faster the transition to renewable energy is made, the more money Lebanon will save, the more jobs it will create, and the more lives it will save through reductions in air pollution. The authorities should also take steps to establish a universal social security system that guarantees benefits throughout people’s lives, such as child grants, unemployment benefits and old-age pensions.

International financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, should urge the Lebanese government to reform the electricity sector in line with the country’s human rights obligations, and ensure that everyone regardless of socio-economic status has access and that Can carry electricity. The World Bank should refrain from financing any new energy projects dependent on fossil fuels and instead provide technical and financial assistance for the expansion of renewable energy infrastructure.

“Lebanon needs to take urgent action to strengthen the electricity sector and reverse the ongoing erosion of basic economic rights,” Fakih said. “The government should invest in renewable energy sources that will create job opportunities, reduce pollution, and provide people in Lebanon with access to reliable, safe and clean electricity.”

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