Lebanon telecom price hike threatens aid hotlines: NGO

AFP , Tuesday 23 Aug 2022

Telecom price hikes in Lebanon have slashed the number of emergency callers to aid hotlines, limiting access to relief services at a time of unprecedented economic crisis, Mercy Corps said Tuesday.

Lebanon Telecommunications
Mamdouh al-Amari refuels privately-owned diesel generators that provide power to homes and businesses, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, July 16, 2018. AP


Telecom prices saw a fivefold increase in July, a move Telecommunications Minister Johnny Corm said was necessary to stem the sector's collapse in light of Lebanon's currency collapse.

"In July, Mercy Corps alone received more than 70% fewer calls and requests on its hotline than in previous months," Mercy Corps said.

"This is an especially major concern for Gender-Based Violence (GBV) case management, where women and girls may find it increasingly difficult to contact case managers," the organisation added.

Lebanon has been battered by triple-digit inflation and the crash of its currency since the onset of an economic crisis in 2019 - widely blamed on the ruling elite's corruption and mismanagement.

More than 80 percent of the population lives in poverty, according to the United Nations.

Since July, the price of services provided by the country's mobile telecommunications companies have increased by more than 500% and the costs of landline services more than doubled, according to Mercy Corps.

"The increased challenges of reaching out to different institutions' hotlines will have ramifications for beneficiaries seeking to report abuse, corruption and fraud, among others" it said.

Free emergency hotlines have reported difficulties operating as Lebanon's economic collapse batters the country's infrastructure.

The Lebanese Red Cross said Monday that their free hotline had suffered disruptions after the state telecom company experienced technical difficulties.

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