Today commemorates two years since the Beirut blast
BEIRUT, 4 AUGUST 2022 – Lebanon marks the second commemoration of the Beirut Blast today. The 2020 explosion, third largest in history after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killed 220 people, injured more than 6,500 and temporarily displaced about 300,000 people from their homes and destroyed entire neighborhoods of the city.
Exact figures are not available, but only about 50 per cent of people from the devastated areas have returned to their homes, either because the necessary work was not done to allow them to safely return, or because they remain too traumatized by the experience to go back.
There is also no data related to people whose injuries resulted in permanent handicap.
“Two years after the Beirut Blast, Lebanon – which has been experiencing the most serious socio-economic crisis in its history since autumn 2019, continues its downfall,” says Bujar Hoxha. “A middle-income country before 2019, Lebanon, whose currency lost 99 per cent of its value in three years, has now become a place where more than two-thirds of the population is poor. According to a study published by UN (United Nations) ESCWA last year, 80 per cent of the Lebanese population lives below the poverty line.”
This year, Lebanon was also hit hard by the war in Ukraine, both in terms of its wheat reserves and the increase in oil prices. The weakened agricultural sector relies on 66 per cent of wheat imported from Ukraine and 12 per cent of wheat from Russia for bread and other baked products.
The surge in oil prices is hitting Lebanon’s population particularly hard. For months they have been living with two hours of electricity per day provided by oil-fueled generators being rationed by the government. The rationing of these neighborhood generators increased with the spike in crude oil prices at the start of the conflict. Lebanese citizens use private generators to light their houses. This electricity shortage especially impacts hospitals and public services.
Back in 2020, immediately following the blast that was the result of the explosion of hundreds of kilos of ammonium stored at the port of Beirut, the government estimated that the economic losses and damages were in the tens of billions of US dollars, while the World Bank suggested billions would be needed to help Beirut recover and rebuild.
“May this second commemoration of the Beirut blast be used to give courage and strength to the Lebanese communities to restore a better environment for the future of Lebanon, where everyone can afford their basic necessities,” says Bujar Hoxha, Lebanon Country Director.
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