LEBONAN- Nishat Mirza – At around 6 pm, Mohammed Safa sat on his desk, finishing up some paperworks in Tyre, Lebanon. Suddenly he heard a noise that shattered his building, windows and door started to break. When the window glass fell, he found himself pressed in the wall, closing his eyes not knowing what exactly is happening. Safa realized he and his family might be in the middle of a war zone. His memories of the 2006 Lebanese war with Israel started to flicker, it was such a devastation. Once the shaking of the ground started to slow down, his family members came out, they looked at each other unable to speak with clarity, they were all shocked. That day, he just returned from the port of Lebanon 2 hours ago, where the biggest explosion of ammonium nitrate took place on Tuesday August 4, 2020. He was just there, can’t believe it. He started calling his friends and family who were still in Beirut. After the incident, electricity went off, they waited anxiously throughout the night.
Mohammed Safa, is a Human Rights and Climate Activist. He lives in Tyre, Lebanon, one of the oldest inhabited cities around the world through medieval times. Tyre is about 80 km from Beirut. He has been involved with the work of the United Nations and for several years he has been working on several projects such as beach cleaning, community outreach projects and non profit work to build awareness for Agenda 2030, the UN Sustainable Development Goals. He was among the Top 6th of UN’s Champion of the Earth contest, sponsored by the UN Environment Programme.
The Moment he realized his friends and loved one were in the middle of chaos in Beirut, he couldn’t wait but to visit the site of the explosion. People were not allowed to enter there the next morning because of air filled with toxic ammonium there. Once he reached the port, on thursday August 6th, he had to wear double masks to protect his nostril from breathing explosive air filled with chemical debris. It was a terrible site, 154 deaths reported so far, many people are still missing including Safa’s friend who used to work at a store by the port.
2,750 tons of explosive ammonium nitrate was unsafely stored at the port of Lebanon, no one knows what triggered this massive explosion. Investigators said they are expecting to give a full detail of how the explosion took place by next week. Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said the Beirut blast probe is looking into external interference among possible causes of the explosion. Lebanese people are angry and frustrated at this point, however they believe the government will shed light into this devastation. It is such a massive loss of homes, roads, and properties that it is the worst devastation after the 2006 war, the devastation this time is even greater than the wars they have experienced.
The people of Beirut are moving to other parts of the country, many lost their homes and businesses. Countless people are injured from debris falling from buildings and shattered windows. Children are in shock the most when they are observing the destruction around them and seeing their family being so anxious. They are moving across Lebanon by foot, since roads are destroyed and the once that are intact, jammed by traffic.
Safa co-founded a humanitarian organization named Patriotic Vision; this non-profit is associated with the UN Economic and Social Council. Safa has been distributing fresh water, and food to the victims coming over to his town since the incident occured. The victims are looking for places to stay and looking for food to eat. Safa and his Patriotic Vision team is working tirelessly to provide the victims shelter and food.
The work of local organizations, such a Patriotic Vision is crucial to bring some type of normalcy in Lebanon. Many around the world are willing to donate and help in Lebanon, however, there is a financial block by the United States in Lebanon; meaning FundRaising sites, such as Go Fund Me cannot work inside Lebanon. People are not allowed to withdraw more than $200 from their Bank Accounts as well. The country is on the verge of Collapse.
UN officials are helping in the ground as well as France and other european countries have reached there to help. However, more help is needed in Lebanon, they urgently need food, medical aids and monetary support. Local organizations and hospitals are saturated, 3 major hospitals destroyed during the explosion. The medical facilities are now overly crowded. Having no electricity in hospitals makes it even more difficult to treat the victims.
Youths of Lebanon and children are now in need of the world to help them. “The Youths of Lebanon are witnessing their future to be destroyed right in front of their eyes, the international community must come together to help,” says Mohammed Safa, Youth Entrepreneur and Activist.