Lebanon cities erupt against collapse in currency

Protests erupted and banks were set on fire in Lebanon's city of Tripoli on Tuesday (April 28) as violence boiled over into a second night in response to the spiralling economic crisis in the country.

The army responded with rubber bullets and tear gas and one demonstrator was killed overnight Monday.

The Lebanese pound has collapsed, losing more than half its value since October last year.

Inflation has soared as well as unemployment.

It's sunk the country further into the financial hardship it's struggled with for months.

Banks have been a target with people furious over being frozen out of their deposits.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE PROTESTER, ALAA EL-DIN JAMAL ANTAR, SAYING:

"This is the beginning of the journey, let the authorities and politicians bare the pain and anger of the streets."

And on top of all this - the shutdown to curb the coronavirus has brought businesses to a screeching halt.

Protests first began last year, sparked by rampant corruption, extreme inequality, a regressive tax system, and almost a non-existent social safety net.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab's government has struggled to enact reforms demanded by foreign donors to release billions of dollars in pledged financing.

The U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon said the violence was a warning to its political leaders and said in a tweet quote, "this is the time to provide material support to increasingly desperate, impoverished and hungry majority of Lebanese all around the country."

The growing unrest threatens to tip Lebanon into more serious conflict even as Beirut looks to pass an economic rescue plan and enter negotiations with foreign creditors.