Saudi Arabia and four neighboring countries are banning Lebanese produce after massive drug seizures.
On April 23, Saudi authorities seized millions of amphetamine pills concealed in a shipment of pomegranates from Lebanon. A day prior, Greek authorities intercepted a shipment of cannabis en route from Lebanon to Slovakia following tips from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Beirut tweeted that his country had seized more than 600 million narcotic pills and hundreds of kilograms of hashish smuggled from Lebanon over the last six years. Reports from Arab News and The Jerusalem Post point to Hezbollah as the primary driver behind Lebanon’s drug smuggling.
“Drugs have always been an issue in Lebanon. It’s an ‘under the table’ issue,” Heart for Lebanon’s Tom Atema says.
“Lebanon’s a very conservative country, and it’s an honor/shame culture, so you don’t talk about these kinds of issues, but it is a growing problem.”
Produce exports to the Gulf states account for 55-percent of this sector’s trade, The National reports. The loss comes at a difficult time. Over half of Lebanon’s population lives in poverty due to the country’s multilayered crisis. See our full Lebanon coverage here.
“This is my 20th year going to Lebanon,” Atema says, describing an atmosphere very different than the one he experienced during his first visit in 1991.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth
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