Lebanon on Wednesday marked the 1st anniversary of the explosion at the port of Beirut, mourning the deaths of 214 people, whose perpetrators have not yet been investigated and whose sentences have not been criticized.
On the same day, France and the UN organized a new international conference to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to the most disadvantaged in Lebanon, which is in the worst socio-economic crisis in its history.
On August 4, 2020, just after 6:00 p.m.
Trauma, disaster, pain and anger. 214 people were killed, more than 6,500 were injured and the entire neighborhood was destroyed.
The catastrophe of many in a country in economic bankruptcy, it will sink under the leadership of a political class.
To pay tribute to the victims and seek justice, their families and activists organize lunch walks, candlelight vigils and religious ceremonies, either in front of the port or near Parliament.
Among the victims, firefighters died after putting out a fire in a port hangar prior to the nitrate explosion. Or even port workers buried under partially collapsed grain lifts.
There were motorists on the highway, employees in restaurants, people in their kitchens, in their living rooms, broken windows, furniture waltzage.
– “Breaking bones” –
A year later, if the neighborhoods were rebuilt, mainly thanks to NGOs and volunteers, the government did nothing or did very little, and if the wounds healed, an entire nation would be in shock.
According to UNICEF, one child in three families has symptoms of “psychological distress”. In adults, this is one of two.
Despite the scale of the drama that shocked the whole world, local ministers and security officials have not been able to identify or investigate the culprit despite justice.
And for good reason? The ruling class is accused of doing everything possible to speed up the investigation and avoid charges, claiming an immunity that is guaranteed by public responsibilities.
Demanding the dismissal of the immunity, the families of the victims issued a final warning to the authorities and on Wednesday threatened to “break the bones” of anyone who resisted their anger.
“Our regular and peaceful demonstrations are enough.
As for the NGOs, their verdict is final.
Amnesty International has accused authorities of “shamelessly obstructing the victims’ search for truth and justice.”
“Many officials (…) have shown criminal negligence,” Human Rights Watch said.
– Laziness –
According to reports from Lebanese or Western security agencies consulting with the AFP, the explosive ammonium nitrate was stored in a warehouse of firecrackers or slow wicks.
Within a year, Lebanese investigators had not yet officially determined the cause of the explosion. Authorities say tons of ammonium nitrate exploded after a fire in the hangar, but according to safety sources, it was caused by welding work.
Almost unchanged from the Civil War (1975-1990), the political class has been accused of indifference, corruption and incompetence and complete detachment from reality.
Even the threat of European sanctions could not drive the leaders out of their laziness.
Hassan Diab resigned a few days after the government erupted. The country is still waiting for the new government to launch the reforms demanded by the international community to secure vital funding.
But political parties are engrossed in endless bargaining. Meanwhile the country is sinking: poverty, the free fall of the local currency, unprecedented banking restrictions, high inflation, no fuel and no drugs, while electricity has become a luxury.
Doctors, lawyers, students – those who are on the way – say they are fleeing this hell of Lebanon.