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Photo Credit: Tearfund/FFRL
Photo Credit: Tearfund/FFRL
Photo Credit:  Tearfund/FFRL
Photo Credit: Tearfund/FFRL
World News

'It's the straw that broke the camel's back': Tearfund worker in Beirut details frustration at Lebanese Govt amid protests

by Tola Mbakwe

Three days since the deadly blast in Beirut, Lebanon which killed almost 150 people and injured 4,000 others, a Christian humanitarian worker says emotions among locals have now turned from sadness to anger. 

The blast was apparently caused by the ignition of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used for explosives and fertiliser that had been stored at the port since it was confiscated from an impounded cargo ship in 2013.

The government has launched an investigation as it has come under mounting criticism, with many Lebanese blaming the catastrophe on negligence and corruption.

On Friday morning protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces at anti-government demonstrations near the country's Parliament in Beirut.

Jaime Abraham, Tearfund's country director for Syria, lives in Beirut. He witnessed the explosion and is seeing first-hand how families are being affected by it   He told Premier Lebanon's residents are fed up with its government.

"The shock has worn off now and there's a sense of anger that's starting to seep out naturally towards the government. Especially like, how could they let you know all this ammonium nitrate be sitting at the port all these years?

"In many ways, it's like the straw that broke the camel's back…this explosion. 

"We have a country that was in dire economic straits before this, no trust whatsoever with the government, and then this happens. 

"It's looking more and more like the government that wasn't fulfilling its responsibilities to the people and now we lost the lifeline to the country, economically, the port. 

"Many lives lost and many more thousands injured, over 300,000 homeless.  I was speaking to a Lebanese friend yesterday, he's lost his apartment he just bought two years ago with his life savings, and he's just crying? He's like, 'What do I do?'"

Tearfund is working with three partner organisation in Beirut to respond to people's immediate needs. It's providing hot meals, shelter for those made homeless, as well as helping to rebuild networks of much needed emotional support for the coming weeks and months.

Abraham said it's hard to say how long it will take for the country to recover from the devastating blast but he has hope the country will unite and pull through. 

Damage to the Manara Youth centre, run by Tearfund partners,
 a drop-in center for at-risk youth in the community of Bourj Hammoud, one of the areas worst hit by the explosion. 
The centre provides access to intellectual, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual development through various programmes and activities (this is the carpentry workshop).
Credit: Tearfund/Manara

"I know the Lebanese people, they're resilient, and they'll get through this and they'll build back together and stronger," he said. 
He asked people to pray for peace in the country, comfort for those who lost loved ones and homes in explosion, and for wisdom for the government. 

"Pray for the issues that are brought up through the protests to be dealt with and answered in a peaceful way. Pray that this becomes a moment of solidarity and union for the country, and that the country can move through this together, rather than resorting to violence or any other measures.

"Pray for our partners. They're doing an amazing job in these first 40 to 72 hours out there cleaning up, helping families and their community. Pray for wisdom to respond the way they need to respond and pray for the resources that Lebanon needs."

Click here to donate to Tearfund's Beirut appeal. 

Listen to Premier's full interview with Jaime Abraham here: 

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