Lebanon is hanging by a thread amid ongoing political turmoil, an 80% depreciation of its currency, COVID-19, and an explosion in the capital city.
Rabat – Beirut’s governor, Marwan Abboud, said up to 300,000 people have been displaced in the aftermath of the explosion that rocked Lebanon’s capital on Tuesday, August 4.
Lebanon is reeling in the wake of the disaster, which has killed at least 137 people and injured around 5,000.
Dozens remain missing as the capital begins a two-week state of emergency.
Shops, offices, bookstores, cafes, restaurants, and art galleries are struggling to clean up the rubble which, for many, spells an end to their business and livelihood.
Already struggling to make ends meet amid Lebanon’s economic crisis, the combination of a three month lockdown due to COVID-19 crisis, ongoing political turmoil, and the current destruction has created the perfect storm.
Beirut hospitals were already struggling to cope with the numerous patients receiving COVID-19 treatment before the explosion rocked the city.
Lebanon’s Health Minister, Hamad Hassan, affirmed that the country’s health sector was short of beds and lacked the necessary equipment to treat thousands of injured people, many in critical condition.
A growing number of Lebanese are expressing anger over the disaster and accuse the government of negligence, corruption, and mismanagement.
“They have declared war on us, this corrupt state, and it’s up to us to clear up the mess. We know they’re not going to help. We don’t want their help,” Roy Rached, a 30-year-old unemployed man told Al Jazeera.
Reportedly caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, the Beirut explosion sent shockwaves throughout the city, shattering windows, tearing down walls, and scattering debris.
According to public reports, over the course of six years, authorities ignored repeated requests to remove the hazardous materials from Beirut’s port — despite the alerts of the danger they posed.
An investigation is underway and the government has placed a number of port officials under house arrest.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch declared “serious concerns about the ability of the Lebanese judiciary to conduct a credible and transparent investigation on its own.” The United States-based rights organization, along with Amnesty International, is calling for independent investigations.