Exploded windows, collapsed building facades, gutted cars… Much of Beirut is unrecognizable after the blasts of August 4, which left more than 150 dead and appalling damage. In an attempt to erase the stigma of the disaster, it was the townspeople themselves who set to work.
Accustomed to failing public services, Beirutis and Beirutis got to work almost immediately, equipped with brooms, shovels, face masks and rubber gloves to protect their hands. Clearance of the rubble of collapsed buildings, glass from broken windows, blown out by explosions, or repair of electric cables, individual initiatives are plentiful to revive the Lebanese capital.
But the solidarity does not stop there. While the governor of Beirut, Marwan Abboud, has estimated that up to 300,000 people are homeless due to the damage, which extends to almost half of the city, volunteers are managing the reception of the homeless, and prize pools are organized to buy food for people in need. Since the explosion on Tuesday, volunteers from the Lebanese Food Bank (LFB) have also been on deck, distributing sandwiches and meals to families whose homes have been damaged, Souha Zeaiter, its executive director, told AFP.
These are salutary initiatives, while the country was already experiencing an unprecedented economic collapse before the disaster, and while waiting for the arrival of international aid from several countries and institutions, including France, the European Union, the US Army, Russia, Egypt, Greece, Kuwait, Iran, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.