Lebanese schoolchildren face harsh winter amid fuel shortage

Xinhua
Sawsan al-Qadi, a housewife living in Lebanon's eastern town of Rashaya al-Wadi, fears that her children's school would fail to secure sufficient heating fuel.
Xinhua

Sawsan al-Qadi, a housewife living in Lebanon's eastern town of Rashaya al-Wadi, fears that her children's school would fail to secure sufficient heating fuel to keep kids warm this winter.

"I am anxious about sending my children to school in the cold weather in the absence of proper heating devices, especially after discovering cases of Cholera in the country," al-Qadi told Xinhua.

Al-Qadi said she bought her kids woolen clothes, but they are not enough to keep them warm in the freezing winter.

Attending schools will be a daunting task for Lebanese schoolchildren this year in light of the remarkable increase in prices of diesel used to operate heating devices after the government removed subsidies on fuel amid the steep financial crisis.

"I will probably not send my son to school during icy days as his school informed parents that they were able to secure 10 percent only of the school's need for diesel," said Elham Abdelhak, another resident of Rashaya al-Wadi.

Abdelhak noted that this quantity is sufficient to operate the school's heating devices for only one month.

Jihan al-Khatib, director at Mimas intermediate public school in Lebanon's southern town of Hasbaya, told Xinhua that schools in mountainous areas face the greatest challenge of equipping classrooms with heating service given the increase in diesel prices to 26 US dollars (1,040,000 Lebanese pounds) for 20 liters.

Al-Khatib noted that a school with ten classrooms needs around 60 liters of diesel for daily heating, priced at approximately 80 US dollars, equivalent to about 3.2 million Lebanese pounds.

"This amount of money is not affordable for schools, and we do not know how to secure it," she explained.

She added that her school received some funds from the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). However, they can barely cover a few of the school's expenses.

Hassan Mrad, head of the parliamentary education committee, told Xinhua that schools in mountainous areas suffer from a bitter reality this year as the temperature in these areas drops below zero in light of their inability to purchase diesel for diesel heating.

"Despite all efforts, fuel will likely remain a significant challenge this school year. UNICEF is liaising closely with MEHE (Ministry of Education and Higher Education) and other partners to identify options to ensure schools can function," UNICEF said.

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