The Aftermath of the Lebanon Explosion by Yunese Amatya

A view of the port of Beirut after the August 4th explosion (Courtesy of Mehr News Agency).

On August 4, 2020, an explosion equivalent to a 3.3 magnitude earthquake struck the main port of Beirut, Lebanon, leaving 190 people dead, 3 missing, and more than 6,500 injured. While the cause of the explosion has not yet been confirmed, the chemical ammonium nitrate is speculated to have been involved. Large amounts of the chemical were hidden beneath the port at the time of the explosion. The explosion left nearly 300,000 people homeless and 50,000 homes, 17 hospitals, 480 heritage buildings, and 178 schools damaged. In total, the explosion cost fifteen billion dollars in direct damage and left roughly 40% of Beirut in ruins. The estimated total cost of the damages due to the explosion is around 3.7 billion dollars, with an estimated half of this figure accounting for housing, and another third accounting for businesses. The announced pledges and donations for the rehabilitation of businesses, housing, culture, and education amount to less than 5% of the total sums necessary for repair. All while the financial thresholds for food security and healthcare have been met only at 30% and 60%, respectively. Contributions made by international and local donors alike have funded 15% of the costs necessary for recovery, or around 600 million dollars. 

After the explosion, hospitals, already overrun due to the COVID-19 pandemic, struggled to accommodate the blast victims. Also, several major hospitals were destroyed, making it more difficult for more citizens to access care. Furthermore, since the explosion, cases of COVID-19 in Lebanon have steadily climbed to approximately 41,000 people. The explosion and the economic crisis in Lebanon have recently ignited several protests throughout the country demanding change within the government. The protests reached their intended goal on August 10, when Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced the resignation of the Hezbollah government. On August 31, Mustapha Adib became the new Prime Minister following Diab’s resignation. However, some protestors nevertheless argue that these changes are not enough: many still call for the improvement of basic infrastructure needs and an end to government corruption. Indeed, the people of Lebanon currently suffer from scarce resources: since the explosion, food prices have increased by over 80% and the total cost of food assistance programs will exceed 215 million dollars. The silo near the port that houses 90% of Lebanon’s imported wheat was destroyed, decimating much of the food supply. Poverty and economic insecurity have risen, with nearly half of the country’s population below the poverty line and 35% out of work. It is clear that Lebanon, an already struggling country, has seen a massive increase in debt and poverty since the Beirut explosion. However, there are ways to help. Visit https://helplebanon.carrd.co/ to find links and areas to donate and assist the country’s restoration process.

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