The Lebanese currency has lost more than 90% of its value since 2019, where 1$ was equal to 1500 Lebanese Lira(L.L) and increased to reach more on 16 March 2023, more than 105,000 L.L with no signs of being fixed in the time. This leaves most of the population in poverty, affecting, on more than one level, one of the most influential groups in Lebanese society, which is its Youth.
According to Human Rights Watch, most people cannot secure their social and economic rights amid a deepening financial crisis, with low-income households bearing the brunt.
Lebanese Youth are struggling to make ends meet, facing various challenges daily, ranging from economic hardship to political instability.
Asking Youth about their concerns, "unemployment" is always a standard answer, in addition to the lack of suitable job opportunities and the high cost of living.
The economic crisis has led to a significant increase in unemployment rates in Lebanon; many are left without job opportunities or means of making a living.
According to the International Labour Organization, Lebanon's official unemployment rate has nearly tripled in fewer than three years since the country's devastating economic crisis.
Lebanon's unemployment rate increased from 11.4% in 2018-2019 to 29.6% in January 2022; most unemployed are between 15 and 24 years old, as the survey shows.
Many educated and skilled young people leave the country for better opportunities abroad. People going has resulted in a brain drain that could have long-term adverse effects on the country's economy. While there may be short-term benefits to individuals who leave, it can hurt the home country in the long run.
"It is not able to live in Lebanon as also not able to acclimate anywhere else," Fayez Jaber, a Lebanese engineer who lives in London, said.
Lebanese Youth search for better opportunities outside Lebanon, bringing their knowledge, skills, and experience, which can be difficult and costly to replace.
Inflation also affected access to education; the rise in prices led to limited access to quality education, where young people can only sometimes take training opportunities to build up their skills and widen their knowledge.
With all that has been mentioned, the economic crisis caused stress and uncertainty and had adverse effects on young people's mental health, including anxiety and depression. Psychological stressors seem to increase as inflation continues to rise.
According to a UNICEF report in 2020, mental health issues are a concern in Lebanon, and children and young people are currently facing adverse conditions in the country. As signs of depression and anxiety have become more prevalent since 2020, health experts warn of a national "mental health pandemic" in Lebanon. In light of this, it is essential to address mental health issues, especially in times of crisis.
Additionally, political instability and sectarian tensions have created uncertainty about the future, making many people feel disillusioned and disconnected from the government.
More effort and action are needed to address Lebanon's Youth's challenges. While several organizations and initiatives are taking action toward supporting young people and their efforts are commendable, more needs to be done. A concerted and sustained effort from the government and civil society is needed to provide young people with the support they need to thrive despite the challenging circumstances because Youth are the engine of change. Unifying efforts in all regions with a clear plan and creating more programs to help young people build their skills and knowledge.
However, despite all the challenges, many young people are still aware and remain determined to overcome these obstacles and build a better future for themselves and their country.
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