Although Lebanon suffered an extreme disaster over the past week, it is only the tip of the iceberg in Lebanon’s profound economic, political, and social disintegration. The lack of stability has meant uncertainty and fear for many citizens, and the recent explosion only extends the long journey ahead for Lebanon to stand firm again.
Hello and welcome to a brand-new series on my blog. This series is all about looking at different countries around the world and what they are currently experiencing. The articles will cover political, economic, social, cultural, and other miscellaneous information regarding a different country each time, hopefully educating us all on the position of people all around the world. If you have a suggestion for a country you would like to learn more about, let me know in the comments below or through Instagram!
This is certainly not the ideal scenario for beginning this new series; however, it seems appropriate to speak about Lebanon and the challenges they are and will continue to face over the coming months.
The first event to talk about is the explosion that wrecked much of the capital, Beirut, on Tuesday last week. The blast was the result of the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored unsafely at Beirut’s port for the previous 6 years. The death toll is continuing to increase and currently stands at 220 with 100 people still missing. Officials have estimated that the explosion caused more than 3 billion dollars of damage and that Lebanon’s collective economic losses may exceed 15 billion dollars.
By itself, these numbers would result in a nation taking many months to recover; however, the situation in Lebanon before the explosion was critical, and now the country is on life support.
Half of Lebanon’s population, approximately 3 million people live near or below the poverty line, and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs through the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation’s currency has also more than halved during the pandemic leading to more shortages than humanly imaginable. Fuel, food and water shortages only exacerbated by almost daily blackouts, soaring prices and hospitals at capacity. Multiple UN agencies had already warned of a humanitarian crisis is support wasn’t provided to Lebanese people through food and medical aid.
In October last year, the Lebanese people joined in protests of solidarity against the government, demanding an end to corruption and accusing leads of using their position to enrich themselves for multiple years. Unfortunately, these protests were unable to lead to change. The government failed to create any plan or route that would see them escape from the extreme poverty leaving citizens hopeless.
Lebanon is reliant on food imports. The explosion destroyed the main entry point that allows for food to be transferred to Lebanon. The nation was already on the brink of a significant food crisis due to the pandemic, but now it could be weeks or months until food imports can be delivered through the port.
This has led to further demonstrations in Beirut fuelled by fury over the corruption and negligence of the country’s ruling elite. Four members of Parliament resigned on Saturday, highlighting some progress made by the protestors, although progress towards putting a new governing system in place still seems like an eternity away.
It is an unimaginably hopeless situation for the people of Lebanon.
The most important step moving forward is ensuring that everyone can be cared for. That includes medical treatment, food and water. Lebanon has received large aid donations from nations around the world, and the government must take responsibility for utilising those donations appropriately.
The next step is finding a way to dismantle or transform a political cycle controlled by former militia commanders from Lebanon’s 15-year civil war. This is a monumental task. The small progress indicated by the resignation of government officials demonstrates that protests against the government can be successful and must continue to occur. Hopefully, this can also influence other nations to apply pressure on the Lebanese government to take meaningful action. We can all also utilise social media and our connections to spread the message regarding the nature of Lebanon’s corrupt political system.
To all those in Lebanon or who have family or friends in Lebanon. We are praying for you, and we give you all the power in the world. The task at hand may seem monumental; however, we are with you every step of the way.