Lebanon And The Normalisation Of Suffering In The Middle East
On August 4th, a massive explosion devastated the port area of Beirut, Lebanon.
It has devastated the capital, killed and injured many and has left thousands homeless. The explosion has caused shockwaves all over the country and has been captured on camera for the world to see.
It has been reported that the disaster was caused by 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate housed at the port. It is not yet publicly known how the blast actually occurred - yet the people of Lebanon know to blame the "incompetency of responsible people" that were aware of the hazardous and dangerous stash housed at the port since 2014.
The magnitude of the explosion has left the people of Lebanon counting their dead, searching anxiously for their loved ones, and digging up those buried alive. It has been described as a disaster that has toppled the capital. A nation that is no stranger to disaster from financial to political crisis and further stretched by the coronavirus pandemic.
The world has reacted in shock and horror at the terrible consequences of the blast, yet empathy has not reached as far...
It's Important To Know Why
We must acknowledge that the world has become extremely desensitised and unempathetic to suffering and violence in SWANA (South-Western Asia and North African) Nations.
When we have powerful leaders labelling these to be "sh**hole countries" and places "that will never know peace", it's easy for public perception to be influenced...resulting in the treatment of these nations "lost causes" that aren't worth the attention. Ignorance results in people's reacting to other people's suffering with indifference.
This attitude originates from imperialist attitudes which stereotype and lump the Middle East into ridiculous sets of stereotypes born from the 'white gaze' - words and ideas like primitive, uncivilised and barbarians are projected onto entire nations and ultimately, normalise tragedy.
Not only is this disrespectful. It's dehumanising. It treats lives as disposable and unimportant. Furthermore, it’s ignorant as it doesn’t acknowledge the true origins of conflict in SWANA regions; the West and their repeated meddling in the Middle East.
The first forms of writing, modern medicine and mathematics came from the Middle East…but history has been whitewashed to the point that we forget. When speaking of the Middle East, it should not treated as a ‘war-zone’ or a ‘graveyard’. It is home to people - human beings who deserve to live, not just survive. It also holds fond memories and familiarities to refugees and migrants who have had no choice but to flee. It's a place where people share life, laughter and love.
We cannot treat their suffering and violence as the norm. It should not take a map of London or Paris to understand the gravity of a disaster and stir empathy, through empty thoughts of "what if it happened to us?" - it didn’t, it probably won’t...that doesn’t mean it should happen to them.
So, What Can I Do To Help?
It has been mentioned that petitions are ineffective in Lebanon therefore it is important to spread awareness and donate if you can. Below are some places where you can do so...
The Lebanese Red Cross: focused on disaster prevention and is currently the main provider for ambulances in Lebanon. https://www.supportlrc.app/donate/4
Impact Lebanon: A crowdfunding campaign...are raising funds to house people that were left homeless from the blast. https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lebanon-relief?utm_term=PYp7gXzyD
Islamic Relief: Focusing on food aid and emergency response. https://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/lebanon-emergency/gclid=Cj0KCQjwvb75BRD1ARIsAP6LcqvDygf0ezqg7AjlGR6OP4UB_rFukfOcfeBjyJc6QnHjAaRAmK6O0TIaAmwFEALw_wcB
Beit el Baraka: A non-profit organisation based in Beirut that offering temporary accommodation and necessities to those in need. https://beitelbaraka.net/donation/pay/
*Due to Lebanon being in the midst of a financial crisis, please donate in USD to ensure value.