Thursday, 31 January 2008

Power, poverty and riots

The a United Nations has produced a difinitve account of the politics behind the riots in the south Beirut.

"Villages in Shia-majority south Lebanon and the eastern Bekaa Valley regularly have their electricity cut after 6pm, but in recent months cut-offs were extended to Beirut. Though nearly all neighbourhoods suffer power cuts, the southern suburbs are worst hit, with few families able to afford to run generators on increasingly expensive diesel. Parts of central Beirut on the other hand enjoy 20 hours of electricity a day."

"In its latest National Human Development report the UN Development Programme (UNDP) highlighted growing disparities in Lebanon.

"While general literacy has decreased nationwide, in the Bekaa it has increased; in 1995-2005 Beirut received 16 percent of total public investment spending, despite having only 8 percent of households categorised as in need of basic services. By comparison, in the Shia town of Nabatiyeh in south Lebanon, where 11 percent of households struggle, the state spent just 1 percent."

Picture: Striking taxi drivers in Jnah, southern Beirut, stop a colleague trying to pick up passengers. Drivers were protesting rising fuel prices. © Hugh Macleod/IRIN

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