By: Kian Diab
A minute after the explosion in the port of Beirut, we received a call from our family living directly in the impact zone. Like usual, TVs were down, the power was out, but a huge blast happened that could be heard even in the mountains. We had to search for answers and tell them what had just happened. Luck was on our side and they were far away enough at the time to survive but arrived home to find glass and debris covering everything they owned. Many people lost their homes, their only assets, their place of work, and now have no where to go. The places I walked a year ago and the people I might have seen, are no longer there. Instead, there lies the remains of an already struggling community who have experienced the third largest recorded explosion in history by no fault of their own but that of a government who shows no consideration for their people.
With Beirut being highly populated, it is a miracle the death count is only in the hundreds. This incident, however, will put an even larger strain on an underfunded health care system that is still struggling to cope with COVID-19 cases. Since the blast, there have been lots of miscommunications and blame toward Israel. It has since been confirmed that the Lebanese government had improperly confiscated and stored ammonium nitrate for six years without notifying their citizens or dealing with the issue safely. This sparked mass outrage among a community that had already been protesting the corruption of their government.
Something important for people to understand is that the Lebanese people have little to no social services, no financial aid, no insurance, no clean drinking water, food shortages, unreliable electricity supply and a government who pockets the money of their citizens. These protests erupted at the beginning of the year, after the government made the Lebanese lira worth virtually nothing, causing the costs of living to grow dramatically.
Positively, since the explosion, there has been an abundance of global support from governments and people. When donating it is crucial to make sure donations are done in USD and will not be going to the Lebanese government (Lebanese Red Cross being the most trustworthy). If we can push our leaders to call out the corruption of the government, we can not only provide temporary relief aid, but we can help free the people of Lebanon from their pain and keep a beautiful country and culture alive.