2020-08-06 LEBANON

Lebanon, the drama continues but hope never dies

The explosion in Beirut on 4 August, which left dozens dead and hundreds injured, has shaken the country and crippled the already difficult health, education and social system. Lebanon has about 6 million inhabitants, of which more than 1.5 million are displaced from Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Ethiopia. In this context, this Tuesday’s tragedy worsens the dramatic situation, since the country, for some time, has been fighting against an economic crisis, social riots, and for some months, also the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Marist Brothers have two schools in the country, “Marist College Champville” and “Our Lady of Lourdes”, in Jbail. Also, we are present in the Fratelli Project, in collaboration with the De LaSalle Brothers. Following the explosion, Marist works have not suffered serious damage or loss in general.

We feel solidarity with our De La Salle Brothers in Beirut, whose schools have suffered serious damage (doors, glass, windows, furniture destroyed) due to the heavy explosion, especially the Collège Sacré-Coeur – Frères Gemmayzé.

What are the prospects for Lebanon now?

The social and economic crisis: According to statistics, almost half of the four million Lebanese live in poverty and 35% of the working population is unemployed. From October 17, 2019, there were social uprisings and demonstrations in the country, and as a result there was a change of government, amidst instability and increasing poverty.  According to the local press, in recent months, thousands of Lebanese have lost their jobs or had their salaries cut. The Lebanese currency has been devalued and the purchasing power of the population has been reduced. Account-holders do not have free access to their money, as banks have imposed restrictions on withdrawals and transfers abroad due to the scarcity of the dollar.

The COVID-19 pandemic: Since March, the coronavirus 19 has compounded the difficult socio-economic situation. As in most countries, the government required the lockdown of citizens to prevent and contain the pandemic. Various activities were suspended, including schools and socio-educational activities. In this context, the Fratelli Project complied with the measures proposed by the government and put in place the means necessary to continue its activity and contact with displaced / refugee children and youth. In addition to these online activities, it has also set up humanitarian aid programmes.

Fratelli Project

The Fratelli Project itself has not suffered serious damage or loss in general. Only “Fratelli Bourj Hammoud”, located a few kilometres from the site of the explosion, has suffered minor material damage. According to Br Miquel Cubeles, “These days we are running summer camps with the children and, luckily, yesterday, when the explosion took place, nobody was around. Glass, windows and doors were blown out and the centre is very badly damaged. We have not been able to resume our activities today. As a result, activities have also been suspended in Fratelli Rmeileh, Sidon. Three days of official mourning have been decreed and we are also in a period of return to lockdown because the cases of coronavirus continue to increase.” 

Hope never dies: despite the difficult situation, we remain in solidarity with the Lebanese people and the displaced people who have come to this country. It is time to be resilient and to start reconstruction.

The Fratelli Project, established in Lebanon 5 years ago, works every day to help people in vulnerable situations and tries to give fresh answers to the new challenges of these times. Soon, Project Fratelli hopes to pass the one thousand mark in the children and adolescents being served in Bourj-Hammud and Rmeileh.

In their communiqué, the Marists of Lebanon (Province of Mediterránea) said that, in solidarity with those most affected by the explosion in the port of Beirut, they have put the classrooms of their schools at the service of families who have lost their homes and need a place to stay.


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