Beirut’s broken pieces, a reminder or negligence?

Veronica Brocca10 May 2022

In the heart of Lebanon’s capital Beirut, the old streets of Achrafieh were always known for their buildings and houses’ beautiful architecture, houses that exhibit Beirut’s archeological history and hold sentimental meaning to all Lebanese. This part of Beirut was the most affected bythe blast of August 4, 2020. Today, roaming these streets after almost two years, we still have a lot of homes that are destroyed and deserted.

Many reasons behind these tragic views that turned this city into an awful post-war zone.

A series of causes

First of all, the economic crisis that hit Lebanon in recent years.This crisis has led to a massive increase in poverty, and people lost all their money in the banks due to the government’s bankruptcy. For some, providing for their families, having food on the tables, and clothes to stay warm is more important than fixing the house even if it means having to share a small one with parents, in-laws, or even relatives, especially that families are suffering from getting paid according to the old rate of US dollars (1$ = 1,500 Lebanese Pound) while essential expenses have increased by an average of 600% following the new “black-market” rate which is eighteen times more (1$ = 27,000 Lebanese Pound).

The search for justice

Second, people’s emotional state affects rebuilding. The repercussions of the blast are still accompanying the Lebanese, and they are finding it hard to get over what happened since justice is still not served. Some people refuse to go back to where it all happened either because of the trauma it caused or the loss of loved ones on that day, in that spot. On top of all that, it is a scientific fact that people have an emotional connection to their homes. That feeling of love, contentment, happiness, and security is common amongst the Lebanese known for their attachment to their land and the places they call home. On that day, all those memories of childhood, late-night conversations, morning coffees, and family gatherings were shattered along the houses and replaced by nightmares, angry thoughts, cries, and insomnia.

The decline of Achrafieh

Third, despite the efforts put by organizations, among them Pro Terra Sancta, it was never enough. The damage caused was beyond everyone’s capability, and it needed a huge budget to restore the capital to its former state. Besides that, the government never reimbursed people for their losses. Therefore, some houses were abandoned. And as the situation worsens, it is taking longer than expected to get all the work done.

There are always lots of reasons for what we see down the streets of Achrafieh, but the most important ones are stated above. Actions are needed to have this beautiful city blossoming again. A lot of heritage is at stake. What once was the most prestigious city in Lebanon is now half-deserted. As if what was lost on August 4 wasn’t enough to stick in all the Lebanese’s memories,the city is doomed to be marked forever by destroyed houses, smashed walls, and shattered glass. The strange fate of what until recently was the richest city in the Middle East, and now resembles Syria.