- Two people in Lebanon staged bank holdups Wednesday, demanding money from their own bank accounts.
- One of them said she needed to withdraw money for her sister’s cancer treatment.
- Banks in crisis-hit Lebanon have been limiting the amount of money depositors can withdraw.
Two people in Lebanon held up two different banks on Wednesday as they demanded withdrawals of their own money.
In the first incident, a woman armed with a gun held up a branch of the BLOM Bank in the capital of Beirut, according to various media reports. She was accompanied by activists and said her gun was a toy, according to the Associated Press, citing the local Al-Jadeed TV.
The woman managed to get $13,000 from her deposits, which she said totaled $20,000, per the AP. She said she needed the funds for her sister’s cancer treatment and had gone to the bank repeatedly to withdraw her own money, only to be told she could only get $200 a month.
“I had begged the branch manager before for my money, and I told him my sister was dying, didn’t have much time left,” she said in the interview, per the AP. “I reached a point where I had nothing else to lose.”
She said she had even considered selling her kidney so her sister could get treated.
Shortly after the first incident, an armed man held up a Bankmed branch in Aley, a mountain city in southeast Lebanon, Reuters reported, citing a depositors’ advocacy group and a security source. The man got some of his savings out of his account.
Lebanon has been in an economic crisis since 2019 as result of government mismanagement. To prevent capital flight, the country’s banks have been limiting the amount of money people can withdraw from their bank accounts, severely impacting the everyday lives of ordinary citizens.
In August, an armed man held employees and customers at a Lebanese bank hostage after he was told he couldn’t withdraw $200,000 from his bank account for his sick father’s treatment. The man was cheered on by a crowd outside the bank.
A senior Lebanese banker told Reuters the incidents may prompt copycat actions.
“I think this is an invitation for other people to do the same. As long as people get away with it, they will continue,” the banker told the news agency on condition of anonymity.