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The question on everyone’s mind; what have the Lebanese Government and its institutions done to help Beirut’s residents after the port explosion?
Already struggling with an ongoing economic and political crisis, the large majority of the Lebanese nation blames the government’s irresponsible negligence for the explosion and the human catastrophe that ensued.
These large amounts of highly dangerous ammonium nitrate had been stored and unchecked for years in a densely populated area of the capital.
And while the top civil servants of this country knew about it, and were even warned of its public danger, they just let it be.
Carelessness, irresponsibility, or under pressure, or all combined, the reason doesn’t matter now, for there is no going back to fix it. The mass crime has been committed, and the state bears the responsibility.
Having large parts of the capital reduced to ashes, the explosion killed over 200 people, injured thousands, many of whom are still in hospitals, unrooted 300,000 people from their homes, and has triggered a staggering increase in the number of citizens seeking to leave the country for good.
If that wasn’t enough, the shockingly gross failures on the part of the incompetent Lebanese government and how they dealt with the aftermath have exceeded the population’s worst expectations.
According to the head of the Lebanese Syndicate of Public Works Contractors, Maroun El-Helou, the government doesn’t even have yet a plan to rebuild Beirut.
Three weeks through and it is the people who are doing the repair and rebuilding, as they have been undertaking the relief efforts.
All of which are the responsibility of the state. Where is the government and what have the civil servants, who are meant to serve the people, been doing all these times?
Ahmad Darwish, a simple 44 year old man, was among the estimated 300,000 people who lost their homes.
When interviewed by Al Jazeera, he informed them that four days after the blast, municipality employees arrived at his four-store building in Sin El-Fil, a neighborhood in east Beirut, to check the damage that has been done.
An hour later, they informed him that the building where he lives with his elderly mother, children and brothers, could fall to the ground at any given moment.
“When I asked them where I should go, they just shrugged and said ‘deal with it’,” Darwish told Al Jazeera. “They think I can just relocate to another place, but I can’t. If it wasn’t for a local NGO putting my family up at a hotel, we would have slept on the streets that night.”
“Deal with it.” Quite a response from those who get their salaries paid by the same people they are abandoning now to their demise.
An example among many of what the blast-struck Beirut residents dealt with and still do. This was all that the Beirut municipality had to offer, a very underwhelming response to help its residents during the aftermath of the deadly explosion.
Nonetheless, The961 has tried several times to contact Beirut Municipality to inquire about their current relief work, with no response whatsoever.
From its side, following intense protests that left many injured by the military use of lethal force, the government finally acknowledged the widespread anger over their incompetence and mismanagement and quickly stepped down, just days after the disastrous explosion.
Sadly, that sums up what the government has done in regards to the aftermath of the explosion. It has stepped down to caretaker status.
While the government was largely absent, local and international relief and aid organizations, along with local volunteers, played the role of the government.
They have been filling the gap to the best of their limited capabilities, rebuilding and providing food, medicine, shelter, even psychological help.
While experts applaud the people’s efforts, as they were an essential response to the blast that should’ve been done by the government, a more sustainable solution for those who have lost their homes needs to be put in place as soon as possible.
And it’s only thanks to the empowering Lebanese residents and NGOs, and their fierce eagerness to save Beirut, that rescue and recovery efforts are still underway.
Yet, critical infrastructure like hospitals and the country’s main port remains shattered, with hundreds of thousands of people displaced, and many still missing…
A new prime minister is expected to be elected by the parliament on Monday, after which a new government will be formed.
Unfortunately, it is also expected that it will be the same endless saga with the very same officials, who brought doom on this country, deciding based on the very same failure of sectarian politics and disregard towards the people.