This week, the world was rocked by a massive blast at the port of Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. So far, at least 137 people were killed, another 5,000 are injured, and more than 300,000 have been displaced due to what is being called ‘the total destruction’ of the city center. The causes are still unclear, though Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab pointed the finger at an estimated 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate stored at a warehouse at the port.
People around the planet were left open-mouthed by the horrific footage of the explosion, with each different camera angle of the blast showing its dramatic destructive scale. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro was quick to tweet his condolences, saying that his country “is home to the largest community of Lebanese people in the world.” However, he was criticized for not showing the same solidarity to the more than 97,000 Covid-19 victims in Brazil.
Indeed, Mr. Bolsonaro is right in his words. According to official numbers from 2017, there are 12 million people of Lebanese origin in Brazil, while the Middle East nation has a population of just 4.5 million.
The Lebanese Ambassador to Brazil, Joseph Sayah, said that the tragedy couldn’t have happened at a “worse moment.” In an interview with news website G1, he said the country needs hospital and food supplies, as well as construction materials.
The ambassador stated that Lebanon is a country that imports about 80 percent of its needs, and that the port of Beirut is also used for storage. Reports say the country only has one month’s grain stocks to feed its population.
Lebanon is currently facing a huge economic crisis, with hyperinflation, layoffs and a 50-percent decline on imports in 2020. The Lebanese government has estimated that by the end of the pandemic, six out of ten citizens will be living below the poverty line.
Analysts say it is the worst crisis in the country since the Civil War, between 1975 and 1990. More than ever, we should #PrayForLebanonSupport this cartoon →