The plunging economy of and rising public mistrust in Lebanon, on top of the coronavirus pandemic filling hospitals all over the country, had just been aggravated by the Beirut explosion last week. Over 200 people were reportedly killed from this disaster. The uproar against the negligence of the Lebanese government, which has allowed more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate sit in the Beirut port repugnantly for six years, unbolted further resistance from the Lebanese people.
The Reality of Aid – Asia Pacific offers its strongest and deepest solidarity with the people of Lebanon who have been abrasively neglected and betrayed by their government. The network firmly believes that transparency and accountability are needed to be addressed, most importantly during a plethora of crises verging the country in the brink of instability.
Earlier this week, the Lebanese government had resigned due to public anger after the explosion, which caused an estimated USD 3 billion damage and roughly USD 15 billion economic loss. This furthers the economic collapse of Lebanon that will severely impede the development of the country and its people, having lost their jobs, families, homes, livelihood, and even basic human rights. On top of this, the rampant corruption among elite officials exposed their self-interest while millions of Lebanese civilians have been suffering from poverty, unemployment, and hunger.
In this political and economic crisis, the people of Lebanon need more support from the international community. There are now over 300,000 homeless people in Lebanon from the explosion, which ravaged several buildings, houses, and properties. This calls for a national humanitarian emergency that should be focused on by the Lebanese government, to be assisted and monitored by civil society and international institutions. Furthermore, this critical juncture of the country needs attention from the international community, specifically through the lens of international solidarity and development cooperation.
The Reality of Aid – Asia Pacific, as a network that forwards human rights-based, people-centered development, is extending support to the liberation of the Lebanese people from the chokehold of corruption of the ruling class, the self-interest of the national government, and the unjust economic and social policies that are denying people of access to basic social services.
Thus, we are urging the Lebanese government to 1) be accountable and take responsibility of the explosion caused by their apparent negligence, 2) provide immediate social and economic relief needed by the affected civilians, 3) utilize aid effectively and efficiently, ensuring it benefits the Lebanese people directly, and 4) heed the call of civil society in developing a pro-people agenda in rebuilding the capital of the country.
Moreover, we join the call of Lebanese CSOs for the international community to uphold their commitment to essential development cooperation through effective delivery of aid without conditionalities. The Lebanese people are also demanding that humanitarian assistance be distributed directly to the people, mainly through local CSOs and other trusted channels, whose role is critical in grounding development effectiveness in the country.
Long live international solidarity!