Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 January 2020

Lebanon protests: man sets himself on fire as unrest continues

Nearby protesters immediately extinguish flames and man is being treated in hospital

A man tried to self-immolate during a protest in Beirut on Saturday, the Lebanese Red Cross said, before protesters extinguished the flames.

Protesters and Lebanese Red Cross workers in Riad Al Solh Square smothered the flames with jackets and blankets.

The man in his forties, who did not lose consciousness, was taken to hospital in a Red Cross ambulance. The reason for his action was not known.

Lebanon is on the verge of economic collapse amid political paralysis and a continuing protest movement.

On Saturday, dozens gathered in the central square for another demonstration against the country's ruling elite.

Protests began on October 17, mobilising hundreds of thousands of Lebanese demanding an end to corruption and incompetent leadership.

Lebanon's financial situation, precarious before the protests, has deteriorated markedly since.

In recent weeks, thousands of people have lost their jobs or had their salaries slashed.

Several cases of suicide have been reported in recent days, with financial difficulties believed to be a motivating factor.

In February, a Lebanese man died from severe burns after setting himself on fire at his daughter's school over a fee dispute with the management.

The World Bank has warned of an impending recession that may see the proportion of people living in poverty climb from a third to half the population.

Unemployment, already above 30 per cent for young people, would also increase, it said.

Departing Prime Minister Saad Hariri asked Arab and western allies for financial help on Friday and Saturday.

An $11 billion (Dh2.99bn) aid package pledged at a conference in Paris in April 2018 has not been unlocked by donors because of a lack of economic reforms by Lebanon.

Updated: December 9, 2019 12:49 AM

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