Today • • 14 June

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One Year On: Beirut Explosion

On 4th August 2021, Lebanon marked 1 year since the devastating explosion that destroyed the port of Beirut. 

For Aline Kamakian, on some days she asked herself if she is really alive, after one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history tore through her restaurant in the capital of Lebanon. 

“We are full of scars, some of them you can see and most of them you can’t. The one that you don’t see, it hurts a lot.”

Aline Kamakian, Survivor of the Beirut blast

It was a tragedy that, according to a Human Rights Watch report, happened within a context of deep-rooted corruption and mismanagement at the port. That itself, indicative of the failures of post-war state building and political sectarianism in Lebanon.

Lebanon, a widely diverse city that is also a melting pot of different nationalities, religions and sects, but currently going through one of the worst national crises.

Aline is among countless residents of Beirut who are still traumatised by the explosion that ripped through the city’s neighbourhoods, killing more than 200 people and injuring more than 6,500. An estimated 300,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

The disaster hit the nation when it was already under the weight of an overlapping economic, political and health care crisis. Even worse, the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the conditions even more.

Twelve months after the blast, the country is still left without a functioning government.

Since then, the nation has plunged even deeper into an abyss of economic and financial oblivion, political paralysis and despair – which it had begun sinking into long before the blast.

Lebanon’s economic downfall is critical, up to the point where the World Bank has described it as one of the worst economic crises in 150 years. 

According to a July 1 UNICEF report, half of the population is currently below the poverty line while 77% of households do not have enough food or money to buy it. In the last two years the lira, Lebanon’s currency, has lost more than 90% of its value against the dollar. Thousands of businesses were affected and were forced to close. Unemployment has escalated. Power cuts in the city often run for more than 20 hours a day. 

The dire situation is particularly pronounced for the estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, with 90% of them unable to buy basic goods.

For Aline, she hopes that this anniversary will mark the beginning of Lebanon’s physical and emotional rebuilding. And she is not the only one.

“This is the moment for Lebanon. I think Lebanese people finally understood that it’s only together that we can make the change.”

Aline Kamakian, Survivor of the Beirut blast

 

Although, the country has a long way to go to rebuild itself and win the trust of its people. 

You can help lessen the struggles of those who are grappling with hardship brought upon by disasters in their country by donating to Lebanon Emergency Appeal or our other emergency relief appeals. Support thousands of victims by providing basic essentials today.