Earlier this year we covered the economic and governmental turmoil that Lebanon was facing, with a vacuum of leadership and severe economic hardship impacting the lives of millions of Lebanese.
The situation severely deteriorated when on the 4 August 2020, 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a port warehouse erupted in a blast that destroyed a significant portion of downtown, waterfront and east-central Beirut. The explosion killed over 170 people (with a number still missing), injured 6,000 and made 300,000 homeless. The explosion has also further exposed the governance vacuum facing the people of Lebanon.
Prior to the explosion, the government of Lebanon was already under intense scrutiny and were grappling with a deepening economic crisis over a debt, budget and currency issues, alongside tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Critics state that the explosion, of which the government had been previously warned about, is just one of the symptoms of an ailing government which has no control over security, defence, economic or social aspects of life in Lebanon.
Any progress in addressing the economic and governance crisis prior to the explosion was severely hampered by the various sects jostling for power within the Lebanese government. As the country looks to try and recover it faces numerous hurdles, not least related to the physical rebuild and emotional toll it has taken on the people Lebanon, but a very real threat to the economy, as the weak government attempts to regain control of the fiscal crisis.
Moreover, the flow of international aid has also been restricted, with the French government stating that any aid must be tied to economic reform of the government – a spectre which seems unlikely.
For the people of Lebanon, there looks to be no respite in sight as the government and various religious sects, who have for years been embroiled in a power struggle continue to grapple for control of the ailing state.