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The Lebanon Crisis

Lebanon is a country in the Middle East located between Israel and Syria. Since their civil war in 1975, Lebanon has faced a myriad of current issues; their currency has dropped 80% in value, more than half the population is unable to buy food, and COVID-19 has exacerbated Lebanon’s economic and political corruption. With the recent Beirut explosion, Lebanon’s issues have only worsened.

As in the Creatively Asian message, we work to not only advocate for Asians in the creative arts, but also to address urgent topics through our work.

  • The Beirut explosion occurred on August 4 in Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. Although it’s still unclear what the cause of the explosion was, officials believe the explosion is most directly associated with the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that was stored in a warehouse for six years.

  • There are at least 137 people dead and 5,000 people wounded. Unfortunately, the numbers will only increase as the search for survivors continues

  • The explosion was felt more than 150 miles away from the port of Beirut, Cyprus, because of how massive it was. .

  • Many of the Lebanese citizens are extremely angry as a result of the explosion because they believe that this event could’ve been avoided if the government had better management and exported the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate somewhere safer.

Modern Day Effects of Lebanon's 15-year Civil War:

  • The Lebanese Civil War lasted from 1975-1990 and led to more than 120,000 casualties. Increased corruption along with the presence of guerilla forces and Israeli raids contributed to instability and an imbalance of power in individual states. This, in addition to the alienation of the Muslim and Christian religions is what ultimately led to this war.

  • Today, there are still many debates on what the core reason for the war was. There have been many challenges among the Lebanese population in embracing their history and learning from the mistakes of their past. Elitist movements make it hard for their inhabitants to understand the true impact and historiography of this war.

  • The Lebanese Civil War also left a permanent taint on the economy and infrastructure of the country. Post-war trauma left many citizens devastated and shook on how to possibly move forward from such a tragedy. The two main religions that persist in Lebanon today are still Islam at 54% and Christianity at 40.7%, but sectarianism has still managed to exist among religions even today.

Civil Rights Issues:

  • Since the 2019-present Lebanese protests began, government authorities have cracked down on protestors and journalists. Security often fires tear gas and rubber bullets at protestors, while journalists are interrogated for their motives. This creates a climate of intimidation--people do not feel that they can safely express themselves.

  • Despite an anti-torture law being passed in 2017, the law fails to be implemented, as security forces use torture against detainees in Lebanon. Victims are often forced to confess to fake crimes under duress--no prosecutors looked into their claims.

  • From a 1925 law, Lebanese women married to foreigners cannot provide nationality to their children or spouses; in contrast, only the children of Lebanese men can receive citizenship. As a result, many children cannot receive adequate healthcare.

Lebanese Protests:

  • In 2015 protesters began calling out the Lebanese government’s inefficiency, citing weak infrastructure and poor waste management. No concrete action was taken.

  • This past year the people of Lebanon reached their breaking point when new extensive tax measures were announced by Prime Minister Hariri’s administration in October 2019. Dubbed as the “October Revolution”, protesters from different classes and faiths came together against the weak government and its widespread corruption from elitists in politics. Despite months of nonviolent opposition (strikes, demonstrations, sit-ins) and negotiations with the administration, by the end of 2019 thousands of protesters had been forcefully removed/ arrested.

  • The first phase of protests resulted in the resignation of PM Hariri who was replaced by Education Minister Hassan Diab.

  • In January 2020, protests resumed, this time focused on the economic crisis. Lebanon’s free-falling economy was further exacerbated by the economic stagnation caused by COVID-19. The Lebanese Lira has lost 70% of its value since October. People who relied on their savings are now in poverty due to government restrictions on withdrawals that were placed in fear of banks collapsing. As of June, ⅓ of the population is now unemployed

  • This week protesters are back on the street following the Beirut Explosion, demanding action and accountability. The tragedy that has left thousands injured and over a hundred dead is yet another example of the very government mismanagement protesters have been condemning.

Covid-19 and the Lack of Funding for Hospitals:

  • COVID-19 has created a lasting impact on Lebanon with the country already being in an economic hardship before the virus came. Now, many citizens who had an income before, will not be able to pay for basic necessities.

  • Due to Lebanon’s current financial crisis, there has been a lack of medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Items such as masks and gloves were being restricted to import to hospital staff and nurses to keep them safe from the virus.

  • Adding to that, the government has failed to reimburse public and private hospitals for bills making it increasingly difficult to purchase medical supplies/ protective gear and hire additional staff to help overworked nurses.

  • Today, the COVID-19 pandemic is still apparent reaching its peak on July 31 with 221 confirmed cases.

How to Help the Crisis:

Although Lebanon is far away, the people there need our help. Whether it’s donating or just raising awareness, there’s a lot we can do to help the crisis.

IMPORTANT!! There have been many different threads going around with different resources, etc. People in Lebanon have reported that donating to petitions isn't actually going to the people of Lebanon, it is going to whomever made that petition.

Donating: If you or someone you know is interested in donating to the crisis, here are some organizations to consider- The Lebanese Red Cross, Save the Children, Union of Relief and Development Associations (URDA) and Impact Lebanon. Fact check the proper organizations to donate to!

  • The Lebanese Red Cross: There are teams on site who are doing a search and rescue with more than 75 ambulances to aid and transfer the wounded. Funds from the Lebanon Red Cross are also focused on giving money and shelter, as well as medical teams on the ground.

  • Save the Children: This organization reaches out to help vulnerable children around the world: 87% of each dollar donated will go towards their mission.

  • URDA: A Lebanese non-governmental organization dedicated to helping the most vulnerable groups in Lebanon.

Learn: The Beirut explosion is just one of the many problems Lebanon is facing. The Lira has lost over 65% of its value, Covid-19 is raging, political unrest, and one of the worst famines in history. By educating yourself and bringing global awareness to these issues, we can help Lebanon combat these problems. Repost and share helpful posts (like this one) to others to help grow the effort and spread the knowledge!

Originally created and posted on August 8, 2020, by the CA Team. Click to go to the original post!