Staff of the International Monetary Fund are expected to visit parts of Lebanon from Thursday, February 20, through Sunday, February 23, with the objective of meeting government officials to discuss the economic challenges the country is facing. The destinations for the visit were not immediately announced.
As the country has been facing months of anti-government protests due in part to the ongoing economic crisis, protests and heightened security measures are to be expected during the visit, especially so in Beirut.
Mass protests originally broke out on October 17, 2019, after the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products and a daily tax on messages and calls done via the WhatsApp mobile phone messenger application. The protests forced the government to revoke the tax proposal and since then the demands evolved into calling for the resignation of the government. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation, and on January 21, his successor former education minister Hassan Diab, was appointed.
Individuals in Lebanon are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid demonstrations, anticipate a heightened security presence and disruptions to transportation and business near protest sites, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.