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Here's what's happening in Lebanon, and how you can help

This Tuesday in Beirut, a large mushroom cloud hovered over the city skyline. According to Lebanese officials, a fire started at a warehouse filled with around 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate, creating the two blasts that were felt over 150 miles away. President Michel Aoun announced that the ammonium nitrate had been irresponsibly stored in the warehouse since 2013 when it was confiscated from an impounded cargo ship. 

Since that fateful morning, the explosions have claimed around 160 lives with an ever-rising number of people reported missing. Beirut hospitals are currently struggling to treat both COVID-19 patients and those injured by the blasts. The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Hassan Diab promised "that this catastrophe will not pass without accountability," during a televised address. So far the Lebanese government has placed 16 port officials, including the port's general manager, under house arrest as they continue to investigate. 

This Thursday Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, became the first world leader to visit Beirut since the bombing. He was greeted by anti-government protests organized by citizens. Protesters chanting "Revolution!" and "The people want to bring down the regime!" were forced to disperse after security forces released tear gas around Beirut's parliament building.

The nation's economy has been mishandled by its leaders for decades, and earlier this summer The Washington Post reported "The Lebanese pound has lost over 60 percent of its value in just the past month, and 80 percent of its value since October."

Macron promised to provide French aid, saying "I will be back on the first of September...I will keep my responsibility toward you." As citizens take to social media in hopes of finding missing friends and family, some are also asking that those who wish to help donate directly through the Red Cross.

You can offer your assistance by donating and signing petitions here.

by Elise G. Esquibel | 8/7/2020
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