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Beirut explosion

Lebanese diaspora frustrated with lack of progress on Beirut Blast probe one year on

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Crisis-weary Lebanese and the global diaspora are still frustrated one year later as no one has been held accountable for the monstrous explosion that devastated the Port of Beirut on August 4, 2020.

Hundreds were killed and thousands were injured when stored ammonium nitrate exploded at the port echoing chaos across the Lebanese capital.

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Many investigations have been launched to determine who is accountable for the disaster that not only reverberated across the country’s now-destroyed capital, but the entire population, causing economic and emotional damage that the Lebanese are still reeling from.

The Lebanese diaspora is much larger in number compared to the population of citizens living in the devastated country. After the blast, many gathered to send necessities to the crisis-stricken country that was already grappling with immense national debt, an incompetent and greedy political elite, the aftermath of a semi-successful revolution to overthrow the government that saw the resignation of several of the country’s cabinet members and an out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the Lebanese army and the French military ride a boat past the damaged grain silo near site of the massive blast in Beirut's port area. (Reuters)
Members of the Lebanese army and the French military ride a boat past the damaged grain silo near site of the massive blast in Beirut's port area. (Reuters)

Al Arabiya English spoke to a few people living abroad, all of whom were able to sum up the thoughts of many towards the issue.

‘Disappointed but not surprised’

When asked about his feelings on the Beirut Blast probe, Raghd Zahr, a Lebanese expat working in the United Arab Emirates said: “I feel disappointed, but at the same time, [I’m] not entirely surprised.”

“The problem with my country is its lack of accountability… This deflection of responsibility with the ultimate ulterior motive of political and monetary gain will forever plague the country. We do not have an education or literacy problem - the amount of outsourcing that goes to Lebanon from foreign companies willing to hire cheap & smart labor has skyrocketed in the wake of the blast.”

‘My hatred for our government grew stronger’

A UAE-based Lebanese influencer and coworking space manager Stephanie Haddad said she used to visit her home country every summer.

“My hatred for our government grew stronger, I didn’t think this was possible, but my gratitude to life and family were tremendously amplified,” she told Al Arabiya English.

The “Bouyout Beirut” (Houses of Beirut) postcard series juxtaposes buildings that were damaged in the Beirut port explosion on Aug. 4 with an image taken before the blast that rocked the Lebanese capital. (Supplied)
The “Bouyout Beirut” (Houses of Beirut) postcard series juxtaposes buildings that were damaged in the Beirut port explosion on Aug. 4 with an image taken before the blast that rocked the Lebanese capital. (Supplied)

Contrary to Zahr’s view on Lebanon, Haddad says she would love to eventually move to Lebanon and settle there, stating that the blast did not change her mind.

“Of course, I want to settle and move there! The blast didn’t change my mind, I will still move once I retire or find a stable job [in Lebanon].”

Beirut was ‘my home until last year’

Lebanese expat Lynn Habbal, a UAE-based educator was born and raised in Beirut.

“I considered Beirut as my home until last year. The blast was the straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to my hope for Lebanon,” she says, adding that these feelings came after a series of mixed emotions and realization had hit her because of the blast’s ramifications.

Men inspect the damage near the site of Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 6, 2020. (Reuters)
Men inspect the damage near the site of Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 6, 2020. (Reuters)

“The optimistic sensation of wanting to book a ticket to Beirut and help clean the streets from the debris caused by the blast quickly disappeared with the way the government handled the situation,” Habbal said.

“Global protests for government action were motivating at first until we realized that there was no point because things in Lebanon just moved from bad to worse,” she said, adding that she had no hope in the current government.

“I have no hope that the government will be able to restore what was destroyed. I am afraid though of what tomorrow will bring for Beirut,” she says.

The blast was one of Lebanon’s most tragic disasters, which coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, has plunged the country into an economic depression that has been deemed the world’s worst crisis since the mid-nineteenth century.

Lebanese people in Lebanon and across the world are anxiously waiting to see what newly elected Prime Minister designate Najib Mikati will do for the country. He is set to announce an entirely new cabinet, a feat that caused his predecessor Saad al-Hariri to resign.

Read more:

‘They kill us every day’: Survivors of Beirut port blast call for justice one year on

Probe into deadly Beirut port blast yields no results one year later

Beirut blast: Lebanon’s crisis hotline witnesses surge in calls as anniversary nears