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Facing a severe man-made economic crisis since 2019, a tale of utter desperation emerged out of West Asian country Lebanon, when a video went viral on social media showing a man who entered a bank and held several people hostage, demanding access to his own ‘trapped money ’. The incident took place in Beirut, according to the video. The Beirut police tried to calm the person down, who eventually gave in after a seven hour long stand-off.

According to a report on The Washington Post, the man was identified as Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, a 42-year-old food-delivery driver. Being hailed as a ‘Hero’ by the locals, Hussein later surrendered and was arrested by the police.

Watch the video here

Hussein surrendered after an assurance was given to him that $35,000 of his money would be made accessible to him. A report on Al Jazzera quoted Hussein's wife, Mariam Chehadi, who was standing outside the bank, as saying that her husband "did what he had to do". The report further stated that Hussein needs the money for his father's surgery. 

Hussien had entered the bank armed with a shot-gun and a canister of petrol and threatened to set himself on fire unless he was allowed to take out his money, he also fired three warning shots, the report quoted the local police in Beirut.

Al Jazeera later spoke to the man's lawyer who said Hussein hasn't received any money. Local media reported he has about $200,000 stuck in the bank.

The incident highlights the plight of the local citizens of Lebanon who have lost access to the money they have deposited in banks. This has been happening since the economic crisis that began in 2019. 

According to a UN report published in May, 2022, the actions of Lebanon’s political and financial leaders are responsible for forcing most of the country’s population into poverty, in violation of international human rights law. The UN has blamed decades of underinvestment in the public healthcare system and the Government’s “disgraceful" partial removal of subsidies on essential medicines, serious lack of robust social protection mechanism. 

Lebanon’s man-made economic crisis started in 2019, and today the country stands as “a failing State", the UN expert said. He cited current estimates that put four in every five people in poverty.

Lebanon's cash-strapped government is struggling to afford fuel imports to feed its power plants, causing outages that last up to 22 hours a day in most parts of the country. The World Bank said last year that Lebanon's economic collapse is likely to rank among the world's worst financial crises since the mid-19th century.

Meanwhile, the UN has also warned Lebanon during the a routine tripartite meeting that they should not take the relative stability along their borders for granted, referring to the air strikes that took place between Israel and Gaza. 

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