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Pope Francis Calls For ‘Concrete Assistance’ For Lebanon A Year After Deadly Explosion

Lebanon is experiencing its worst political and economic crisis since the civil war.

On his General Audience last week, Pope Francis commemorated the first anniversary of the deadly Beirut explosion.

“I think above all of the victims and their families, the many injured, and those who lost their homes and livelihoods,’ the Holy Father said.The pope added that in July, he got the chance to speak with Lebanese Christian leaders at the Vatican. (Read: Pope, Religious Leaders to Pray for Lebanon on July 1)

“During the Day of Prayer and Reflection for Lebanon last 1 July, together with Christian religious leaders, all of us listened to the hopes and aspirations, the frustrations and weariness of the Lebanese people, and we prayed for God’s gift of hope to overcome this difficult crisis,” Pope Francis shared.

The Beirut explosion effectively killed over 200 people, injured 7,000, and displaced around 300,000 individuals. It was set off by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.

Concrete assistance

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Pope Francis arrives at the start of a summit with Lebanon’s Christian leaders held to discuss the country’s crisis, at the Vatican, July 1, 2021. (Photo from Vatican Media)

He then added that he continues to pray for “the beloved country of Lebanon,” and that “Lebanon will once more be a message of peace and fraternity for the entire Middle East.”

But on top of that, Pope Francis called on the international community to provide “concrete assistance” to Lebanon. He said that the International Conference hosted by France with the support of the United Nations will help the country get back up after the explosion.

According to Sister Eva Abou Nassar, administrative director of Holy Family School in Jounieh (a town 20 kilometers from Beirut), the economy has fallen drastically and many families are thinking of emigrating. (Read: Beirut Church to Reopen Following 2020 Blast)

“Most of them want to emigrate, since they can simply no longer make ends meet. Their purchasing power has fallen drastically,” she said.

Calls for truth and justice

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People hold pictures of the victims of the Beirut blasts during a protest near the Port of Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 4, 2021. Several mass protests broke out in Lebanon, mainly at the Port of Beirut, calling for justice for the victims on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Beirut blasts, al-Jadeed local TV channel reported. (Photo from Xinhua/Bilal Jawich)

Recently, families and friends of victims visited the port holding pictures of their loved ones, and waved Lebanese flags to commemorate the incident.

However, a year after the explosion, the investigation is still underway and is at a standstill. This has led to young people from different parts of the city to protest and even throw stones at the security forces near the Parliament.

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Raï called on the people to not resort to violence, but reiterated everyone’s call for justice. He even accused officials of evading the investigation as the culprits are still nowhere to be found.

“There is no justice without truth. There is no truth without courage. There is no courage without believing in a cause” and “what cause deserves more courage, truth and justice than the disaster of the explosion in the Port of Lebanon?” Cardinal Raï questioned.

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