Protesting on the Third Anniversary of the Beirut Explosion

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Aftermath of the Beirut Explosion (Image Credit: Al Jazeera)

The 4th of August 2023 marked the sad 3-year anniversary of the 2020 Beirut explosion. Then, a massive explosion rocked the Port of Beirut in Lebanon, resulting in 218 deaths, 7,000 injuries, $15 billion in property damage, and leaving around 300,000 people homeless. The blast was caused by the explosion of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse without proper safety measures for six years. The explosion was so intense that it shook Lebanon and was felt in neighboring countries and even parts of Europe, with its impact likened to a 3.3 magnitude earthquake. The ammonium nitrate was originally aboard the MV Rhosus, a Moldovan-flagged ship owned by a Cypriot businessman. The ship’s cargo was impounded in 2014 and stored in Warehouse 12 at the port. Despite repeated requests, the issue of the stored cargo remained unresolved, eventually leading to the tragic explosion.

The Lebanese government declared a two-week state of emergency as widespread protests against the government ensued, culminating in the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his cabinet. The adjacent grain silos were severely damaged, and subsequent incidents further deteriorated the situation.

Before the explosion, Lebanon was grappling with economic crises, a plunging currency, and a poverty rate exceeding 50%. The COVID-19 pandemic strained the healthcare system, and the explosion compounded the challenges. The crisis resulting from the explosion didn’t make the situation any better, and the crisis continues even three years later, as nobody has been held accountable for the tragedy. Political and legal pressures impede the investigation, leaving survivors still yearning for answers. For this reason, protesters wearing black and carrying photographs of the victims marched toward the port four days ago, promising those who perished that “We will not forget”.

“Our pain inspires our persistence to search for the truth” 

said protester Tania Daou-Alam, 54, who lost her husband in the explosion. As those responsible for the Beirut explosion continue to walk free three years later, many more protesters like Tania will continue to demand justice today and in the future.

Written by Imane Moumen

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