In response to the blast that destroyed Lebanon’s vital grain silos, Iraq donated thousands of tons of flour to the Lebanese government. Somehow, 7,000 tons of flour ended up stockpiled in a football stadium in Beirut, instead of in the hands of people in need.
That fact was just uncovered by the Municipal police in Beirut’s Ghobeiry neighborhood when checking the Sports City football stadium during the heavy rain.
They revealed that tons of flour donated by Iraq were poorly and unhygienically stored under stadium bleachers. The flour has been exposed to water, moisture, and air.
Head of the Ghobeiry Municipality Council, Maan Khalil, blames the caretaker Economy Minister. “The failed economy minister is solely responsible for spoiling the flour, even if just one kilogram of it,” he said.
“The flour stored in Sports City, the gift of the brotherly Iraqi people to the Lebanese people, was handed over to a minister who is not trusted to fight corruption,” he issued.
It’s worth noting that Lebanon is in the midst of the worst economic crisis and was recently at risk of removal of subsidy on flour.
For the past year, Lebanon was threatened by multiple bread crises, causing people to lineup outside of bakeries that have had to adjust prices and change the size of the bundle.
In fact, before the August 4 explosion, almost a million people were estimated to die of hunger in Beirut alone. Over half of that estimated amount was children. It goes without saying, the number has increased as a result of the blast.
The outrage of the Ghobeiry official Maan Khalil is shared by the Lebanese public who took to social media to express it.
“Was the Lebanese government planning to store the flour for another 7 years?” some people asked rhetorically, making parallels with the stockpiles of poorly stored ammonium nitrate that blew up the city.
“Huge quantities of flour, stored the Lebanese way,” sarcastically remarked a Sky News reported.
Lebanese writer and director Lucien Bourjeily accused the government to be “a criminal ruling system” depriving hundreds of thousands of destitute citizens of a livelihood, after destroying both the grain silos by unsafely storing chemicals at the port, and now, drowning the flour.
What’s more unfortunate is that the population in Iraq is also hungry. The government of Iraq generously donated to Lebanon to help it after the traumatic blast, what it could have used to feed its own people.
No official response has been issued, as of the time of writing, explaining that remarkable negligence.
The only response came from Nehme, who responded to the allegations against him stating stated the flour (7,000 tons of it!) was placed there on a “temporary basis” until being distributed by the Lebanese army, and that it was stored with “preventive measures” to preserve it.