Beirut Port Blast: Survivors Still Struggling to Recover

The Beirut port blast that occurred three years ago has left survivors with long-lasting physical, emotional, and financial burdens. The explosion, caused by thousands of tonnes of neglectfully stored ammonium nitrate, resulted in the death of at least 218 people and injured over 6,000 others. Joelle Azar, a survivor and owner of a natural food store, shares her experience of that fateful day and the challenges she has faced in rebuilding her life and business.

Joelle was in her car near her store when the blast occurred. Miraculously, she escaped physical injuries, but her car and store were severely damaged. Joelle’s immediate concern was for her sister who was working at the store. Fortunately, her sister survived. However, Joelle lost five friends in the blast, which added to the emotional trauma she already endured.

Prior to the explosion, Joelle had been facing financial difficulties due to the Lebanese financial crisis in 2019. Her earnings significantly decreased as the Lebanese pound devalued, causing her bank job to become increasingly unstable. Despite the challenges, Joelle and her sisters embarked on their dream of opening a food store, with their mother’s influence of valuing natural food and produce. However, the pandemic further impacted Joelle’s business, forcing her to adapt to delivery services.

The Beirut port blast was the final blow for Joelle’s store. It left the shop in ruins, with shattered glass windows and scattered products on the floor. While Joelle experienced solidarity and support from strangers who helped with the cleanup, the psychological and emotional toll was overwhelming. She had to close the store for a month and entered a state of “survival mode” as she dealt with the destruction of her house as well.

Despite the hardships, Joelle remains determined to rebuild her life and business in Beirut. She believes in the potential of her country and its people, expressing hope for a brighter future. However, the lack of progress in the investigation into the port blast has left survivors with unanswered questions and a sense of anger and disgust.

The story of Joelle and other survivors highlights the ongoing struggles faced by those affected by the Beirut port blast. Their resilience and perseverance in the face of immense adversity serve as a testament to the strength of the human spirit. The international community must not forget the suffering of these survivors and continue to support them in their journey towards recovery and justice.