On August 4th, 2020, a devastating explosion occurred in Beirut, Lebanon that killed at least 200 people and injured about 5,000 others. Videos of the explosion quickly went viral across social media and the internet. This was just a recent incident however, as Lebanon has been under crisis for years before this explosion happened and not many people are aware of what is going on.
Back in 2013, almost 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, which is a very dangerous chemical compound, arrived in Beirut’s port on a boat that was bound for Mozambique. Now due to technical difficulties, the cargo had to be offloaded into hangar 12 of the Beirut port and it was abandoned. Knowing that if these chemicals had been triggered, it would be lethal to the city, the Lebanese government was asked on multiple occasions to carefully store them away. In fact, between the years 2014 and 2017, six letters were sent from customs officials to the Beirut Urgent Matters Judge, requesting that these hazardous materials be removed, however, no action was taken.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic left many Lebanese people struggling to make ends meet. So, this long-standing political unrest has been coupled with an unprecedented economic crisis and famine. This includes high rates of unemployment along with inadequate access to vital resources like electricity, water, and waste management, all while the price of food and other basic necessities have skyrocketed. In fact, the Carnegie Middle East Center reported that one in three Lebanese people have lost their jobs. Plus, according to the World Bank, it is estimated that about 22% of the population live below the extreme poverty line with thousands of people going hungry.
Protests have been going on in Lebanon for quite some time and since October of last year, the people have been demanding that the current ruling class step down immediately. According to Perla Joe Maalouli who is both an artist and one of the leading voices in this revolution attributed these issues facing Lebanon to negligence. The Lebanese government failed to protect the people by failing to deal with the chemicals at the port.
And this is just a snippet of what is going on in Lebanon and why Restoring The Peace is dedicating their proceeds this month to help in the fight. By bringing these issues to light, hopefully, more people will be aware of the crisis facing our brothers and sisters overseas and help to do their part to support!