1 year after Beirut explosion, Lebanon’s recovery still vague amid crisis
YEREVAN, AUGUST 4, ARMENPRESS. 1 year since the devastating Beirut explosion, the circumstances of the blast aren’t yet revealed, the investigation is still ongoing and the financial, economic and political problems of Lebanon still remain unresolved.
The 2020 August 4 blast took place when over 2700 tones of ammonium nitrate exploded at the Port of Beirut, sending massive shockwaves through the Lebanese capital and causing more than 210 deaths and 7500 injuries and around 15 billion dollars in property damages. An estimated 300,000 people were left homeless.
Speaking about the current situation in Lebanon, the Beirut-based Aztag Daily’s editor-in-chief Shahan Kantaharian told ARMENPRESS that all of the above-mentioned have caused civil disobediences and protests in the country. In such conditions, the crisis is only exacerbated by the problems in virtually all sectors – banking, finance, petroleum, medication.
“It’s very serious especially in terms of social-economic issues, the Lebanese pound countries to drop, there is an inflation, and this is described as a financial-economic blockade of Lebanon, where the international community is making demands – transparency, accountability of those guilty for the explosion, independent justice. Now, the people and some organizations have started to demand during demonstrations that all public officials get stripped from immunity so that the trials proceed and people are summoned as witnesses or defendants. In other words, the people are demanding independent and fair trials. But on one hand the investigation of the blast hasn’t been completed yet, there are no targeted accusations, on the other hand there is a very difficult financial and economic situation,” Kantaharian said.
Kantaharian says there is uncertainty in the political arena too. Najib Mikati succeeded Saad Hariri in the premiership, but hasn’t yet formed a government.
“Although some statements try to create some optimism, but the government’s composition isn’t yet visible. And in a situation like this the absence of a government creates an additional crisis.”
Speaking about the Armenian community, Kantaharian said the Lebanese-Armenians bear all serious consequences which the Lebanese society is bearing because the community is a part of it. The only difference, according to Kantaharian, is that during the difficult days of crisis the Lebanese-Armenian community received the support and aid from the Diaspora, the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh, as well as countrymen from Armenia.
He praised the pan-Armenian network for swiftly organizing the fundraisers and sending aid, including moral support. “This is an important circumstance which should be focused on,” he said.
Although some in the Armenian community are thinking about leaving Lebanon to live somewhere else, there are many who in this context want to be repatriated and return to Armenia. There is no mass exodus, he said, but noted that naturally there are those who prefer to come to Armenia. “The Lebanese airlines fly to Yerevan three times a week, and these flights are actively working, even in these conditions the people’s connection with Armenia has become more active.”
Reporting by Aram Sargsyan
Editing and Translating by Stepan Kocharyan