Lebananese people in Ottawa remember the Beirut blast 1 year on

·2 min read
Three people hold signs calling for accountability from the Lebanese government for the Aug. 4, 2020 Beirut blast and saying they will never forget the victims of the port explosion. (Olivier Periard/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Three people hold signs calling for accountability from the Lebanese government for the Aug. 4, 2020 Beirut blast and saying they will never forget the victims of the port explosion. (Olivier Periard/Radio-Canada - image credit)

A year after a massive explosion in Beirut's port, the Lebanese community in Ottawa is remembering those back home who lost their lives and homes.

On Aug. 4, 2020, more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded, killing more than 200 people — including two Canadians — and injuring thousands of others. The blast was heard and felt hundreds of kilometres away and registered similar to a 3.3 magnitude earthquake by the United States Geological Survey.

On Wednesday, people gathered at the Human Rights Monument in front of the Ottawa courthouse, waving flags and holding signs such as "Aug. 4, we will never forget." and "Hold the government accountable." The rally was one of dozens around the world.

"I feel so powerless. I want to help but I cannot," Ranya El Bakraoui told Radio-Canada earlier in the day. She has family in Lebanon.

"This explosion, we felt it here, as if we were there."

She would often return to visit the country, but has tried to raise money when she can to help the people there.

"I'm here, living the good life [in comparison] to them."

The country has been in turmoil over the past year with hyperinflation and a near collapse of the economy.

Despite charges being laid against the country's prime minister at the time and three former ministers, questions remain about the blast, including why the shipment was ordered and stored under such dangerous conditions for so long.

Yasmine Mehdi/Radio-Canada
Yasmine Mehdi/Radio-Canada

Members of Ruby Dagher's family were injured in the explosion, while close family friends also lost their home.

She said the blast revealed a division in society.

"It also shows the complete and utter distrust that people have for not only the politicians but also the state and the state system," said the professor of international development and global studies at the University of Ottawa.

"With the level of desperation that there is in Lebanon, people are trying to survive. So, it's a very difficult situation and it's asking a lot of the people who are really, you know, hungry day to day to figure out a solution."

She hopes her fellow diaspora in Canada continue to assist people back home in finding a way forward.

"It has to be an answer by the Lebanese for the Lebanese."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting