in the face of the crisis, the support of the diaspora for the inhabitants of Zrariyé

A Lebanese woman in her apartment in the port city of Tripoli, north of Beirut, on June 17, 2020.

The glowing autumn sky gives way to darkness, and the village of Zrariyé, located on the heights of the coast, in the south of Lebanon, goes into drowsiness when the curfew imposed in these times of epidemic begins. Covid-19. During the day, activity is already slowing down, the effect of the multiple crises that shake the country. But the inhabitants of this Shiite town, where we usually live from commerce or construction, say they are closing ranks in the face of the economic and financial collapse. “We live from day to day. But, in Zrariyé, solidarity plays a big part, assures Mohamed Fakih, young employee of a pharmacy. Here, for example, chronically ill patients who do not have the means to pay for their treatment are supported by benefactors. “

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Benefactors? “People who are in Africa”, specifies the young man of 23, born in Abidjan, where his parents still live. Lebanon is famous for the extent of its diaspora. In Zrariyé, almost a third of the 15,000 registered voters live in Côte d’Ivoire. It is to the most fortunate among them that belong the flashy buildings whose shutters open only during summer returns. In addition, there are families living elsewhere in Africa, Europe or the United States. “The diaspora in Africa has ensured the development of the village, summarizes Adnane Jezzini, the president of the municipality, who pampers these donor-voters. For a year now, residents have really depended on the financial support of their loved ones [émigrés] to live. Generosity also allows us to support the poorest. “

“Social shock absorber”

A 46-year-old father, Hassan Zorqat struggles with his job as a worker in painting. To survive, he traded his car for a moped, and received help from the diaspora. “Everything has become very expensive. ” In grocery stores, Syrian or Turkish products have replaced European merchandise.

“Foreign money plays a role of social shock absorber: it is true here, and for all Lebanese families who have an emigrant”, considers Mohamed Mroué, 55 years old and former from Abidjan, smoking a hookah at the foot of his opulent house, not far from Zrariyé.

In the country, the support of the diaspora undoubtedly explains in part why hyperinflation, coupled with the collapse of the local currency, has so far not given rise to a social conflagration. “There are also instable country reflexes: many households have species in them, just in case. When this liquidity will dry up, things will get complicated ”, Mr. Mroué alert. Long an entrepreneur in the plastic industry in Côte d’Ivoire, before handing over to his sons, he participates in mutual aid, through “Collections” : one of these private initiatives enabled the purchase of tablets for students from Zrariyé, forced to follow school online because of the coronavirus.

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