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Youth unemployment widespread in frontline South Lebanon amidst dire socio-economic general conditions


Al Akhbar newspaper published today a report about the economic realities of the youth population living in frontline villages of South Lebanon and their hardships due to the degradation of the economic situation in this particular area after more than 13 years of liberation from Israeli occupation.  The report describes the attempts of young people to challenge unemployment through opening small shops despite local competitions and galloping rents which both limit their earnings.  The report relays the dreams of young people which are to either immigrate or to find a formal job. The latter dream is highly unlikely to become reality given that the region has no major factory or any concrete production opportunity.  In fact, even construction activity has slowed down in the region while contractors of small projects are now resorting to cheaper foreign labor.  Thus, the economy of this particular area of the country remains highly dependent on income from tobacco harvesting and remuneration of young people enlisted in political parties whilst remittances have dropped as the conditions of emigrants in the host countries have deteriorated and the chances for migrating have also dimmed.

According to the report, 75 frontline villages have no major factories or industries.  The number of small workshops has also declined leaving thus far only a dairy factory in Aytaroun.  Shoe factories in Bint Jbeil have decreased from 30 in the nineties to only three small outfits which hardly employ 7 individuals.  Pottery and ceramics factories in Rashayya al Fakhar have dwindled from 50 to two workshops.  Traditional trades have also disappeared.  As to the agriculture sector, the total number of farmers has continued to decrease leading to a neglect of formerly planted areas except for tobacco farming still widespread in Aita Shaab, Rmeish, Aytaroun, Touline and Suwaneh.

The report also notes that this new and difficult socio-economic reality is accompanied by an increase in the cost of real estate and construction material. This situation is seriously inhibiting the ability of young people still residing in the area and who make up 17% of the total residing population from owning or renting houses.

Finally, the report concludes by highlighting the recent efforts of the Federation of Municipalities in Jabal Amel in creating new employment opportunities.  The president of the Federation, Ali Zein, notes that the border area is blessed with relatively large areas of land which are suited for agriculture and for which the Federation is seeking to develop a comprehensive plan in order to create new work opportunities, The plan will aim to provide agricultural extension services to farmers and to organize training in poultry production, beekeeping and to create new agricultural pilot projects that can be adopted by farmers.
Source: Al-Akhbar 15 January 2014

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