| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

Lebanon: Continued closure of banks impedes financial transactions

Charbel, a 34-year-old employee at an e-design company, fears that Lebanese banks will keep closed till early next month.

“We are eagerly awaiting our salary. Any continuation of the strike will not be in our favor,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat, adding that his family heavily depends on his salary that is being transferred from abroad.

Charbel shares his concerns with the tens of thousands of Lebanese who withdraw their salaries, at the beginning of each month, from ATMs.

For them, banks shutting down early this week did not necessarily affect their lives for the remainder of September. However, if continued, the banks going on strike for long could spell disaster in terms of denying them access to their livelihoods.

“Salary transfers will not reach our accounts,” warned Charbel.

“How will we therefore live and spend on our families?” he questioned.

Lebanese banks have started a strike since last Monday against the background of Lebanese depositors storming their branches to demand the release of their savings that were frozen three years ago.

While some depositors who staged raids succeeded in forcing banks to give back a portion of their frozen savings, others failed.

Lebanese authorities arrested some of the angry depositors. Nevertheless, this was not enough to convince the Association of Lebanese Banks that bank employees were safe.

It is noteworthy that banks in Lebanon are facing pressure from their employees who demand protection measures for their safety.

George al-Hajj, head of the bank employees’ union in Lebanon stated on Wednesday that the employees will not return to work if the bare minimum of security is not provided.

Despite the shutdown, ATMs are still operating normally.

Those who have a bank account can withdraw their money transfers from ATMs, given that banks are “filling the machines daily with paper money in order not to disrupt the lives of citizens during the procedural closure period,” banking sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat