Three times a week, Samer takes off his military uniform and works as a mechanic alongside his uncle. In Lebanon, the army forbids soldiers to have side jobs, but due to the economic crisis, many military and police personnel have no other option but to survive.
Since the crisis that started in 2019 and left more than 80% of the population in poverty, thousands of soldiers and policemen have had to look for additional jobs. Samer, a 28-year-old father, works three days a week in his uncle’s workshop in Tripoli, one of the poorest cities in the country. There, he earns double what he makes in the army, but that salary is barely enough to buy diapers and milk for his son.
Although officially military personnel who have other jobs are subject to sanctions, including imprisonment, the situation has changed due to the crisis. The Lebanese currency has been devalued by 98% against the dollar, and soldiers’ salaries have been drastically reduced from around $800 to only $100 a month, which is barely enough to fill the gas tank one and a half times.
The Lebanese army receives aid from several countries because of its crucial role in the country, but this aid is not enough to cover the basic needs of the 80,000 military personnel. The internal security forces are also facing difficulties, and many policemen are forced to look for additional jobs to be able to feed their families.
The crisis has affected both the ability of the security services to function normally and the morale of the troops. Despite official restrictions, the army and security forces are turning a blind eye to secondary jobs because there is no other option. The economic crisis has left Lebanese soldiers and policemen struggling to make ends meet and living in constant fear of being arrested for violating secondary employment regulations.
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