On August 4, 2020 an explosion at the Beirut port, in Lebanon, devastated the capital city. As of today, the death toll has reached 137 with more than 6,000 injured, 60 missing, and about 300,000 people who have lost their homes due to damage from the explosion. Each one of those numbers represents a family and group of friends in shock and loss who were not as lucky as my friends and family, who were either far enough away from the blast or escaped with some cuts and bruises and slight damage to their homes.
Beyond the loss of life, Beirut’s port processed 60% of imports in a country that imports 80% of its needed foods and goods. The explosion also destroyed Lebanon’s strategic grain reserve as shortages were being reported and deaths due to starvation being expected by the end of the year. This is not to mention that this is happening in the midst of an acute economic crisis with the Lebanese currency in freefall, leading to an inflation rate of more than 400 percent. This crisis has put 22% of the population in extreme poverty and 45% of the population below the poverty line.
The global pandemic also adds another deadly layer to this tragedy. Lebanon’s hospitals were already stretched thin before this due to the Coronavirus with the economic crisis leading to shortages in medication and running power cuts. The explosion has now damage four large hospitals in the capital that are no longer able to admit patients with some needing to be evacuated.
The explosion was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate which has been stored unsafely in the port since 2014. The usual incompetence, negligence, and opportunism of the ruling class and the sectarian system they uphold is directly responsible for this devastation.
It is this incompetence and corruption that has led to an uprising in Lebanon which has been ongoing since October of last year. Mass protests and confrontation have led to the resignation of the previous government. However, this new government is simply a front for the same ruling class that has been in control of Lebanon since the end for the Civil-War in 1990 and has done nothing but loot the people of Lebanon of their wealth.
The impact of this explosion is truly incalculable, and its effects will be felt for decades. The lack of trust in the government, who has already begun circling offers of foreign aid as another means to loot the population, has triggered a revival in protests with slogans such as “build the gallows” being circulated.
The Lebanese people, first and foremost of which is its working-class, are now faced with two parallel tasks. The task of ridding themselves of a corrupt ruling class, and the task of rebuilding their capital city and dealing with the fallout from the explosion. The Lebanese people are asking for our help in the reconstruction process by donating directly to organizations on the ground.
As a working-class organization with solidarity at its core, we should come to the aid of the working class in other countries. The lack of a sister organization on the ground unfortunately means that the only way we can do so at this time is by donating to various relief organizations.
This link leads to a page with a list of trusted organizations that you can directly donate to. I would recommend donating to the first two on the list, however, there are also local NGO’s that deal with more specific groups (migrant workers, children, LGBTQ community, etc.) that you might prefer to donate to.
The smallest of contributions can go a long way in helping house, rebuild, and save the lives of those still needing medical attention and those impacted.
Jade Saab. IWW Education Network General Organiser & Training Committee Chair.
Featured Photo attributions:
Copied from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Beirut_explosions#/media/File:Aftermath_of_the_2020_Beirut_explosions_august_6_2020_09.jpg