Vatican News

Protests in Beirut as rescue work continues

Security forces in Lebanon have fire teargas at protesters as anger mounts over a deadly explosion in Beirut earlier this week.

Protesters took to the streets in force where they clashed with security forces in downtown Beirut on Thursday. Police responded by firing tear gas on dozens of people near the parliament building.

The public are outraged by Tuesday's devastating explosion, which killed at least 149 people and injured about 5,000 others. It was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely since 2013 at a warehouse in the port.

The blast destroyed buildings and caused damage across much of the city which is home to over two million people – around 300,000 are now homeless.

Children in need

UNICEF said some 80,000 children have been displaced by the explosions. The organistation expressed concern that many children have suffered trauma and remain in shock.

Violet Speek-Warnery, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Lebanon said the organisation is working to scale up support to affected children and their families in order to respond to the immediate needs.

“Over the past 48 hours, UNICEF continued to coordinate closely with authorities and partners on the ground to respond to the urgent needs of families affected, focusing on health, water and the wellbeing of children”.

To make matters worse, UN aid agencies are concerned that a humanitarian crisis could erupt given Lebanon imports over 80 percent of its food.

Sant'egidio expresses solidarity

Separately, the Community of Sant’Egidio expressed their grief at the tragedy, saying in a statement they stand with the Lebanese people. “We pray for Lebanon and we will do all we can to be close to the Lebanese people and support the renaissance of their country”.

The statement added: “Every effort must be made to preserve Lebanon as a space of democracy, peace and dialogue in the troubled and lacerated Middle East. Humanitarian corridors, which since 2016 have been bringing more that 2000 Syrian refugees precisely from Lebanon, have given us a further opportunity to appreciate this country, which is so fundamental for the balance of the Middle East, because of their willingness to collaborate with such a great humanitarian program”.

Listen to Nathan Morley's report
07 August 2020, 13:07