Alison Banville writes:
I spent two weeks in Beirut in November 2019 when I thought it would be just one night. I was on my way to Syria and had previously stopped over in Beirut in 2017 and 2018 but never got the chance to explore the city. However, being ‘trapped’ in Beirut I fell in love with it and had an amazing experience there, including meeting up with brilliant journalists Hadi Nasrallah and Laith Marouf.
The huge protests were also taking place when I was there and I attended one especially vibrant night in Martyrs Square. There was a feeling of possibility and hope among the passionate crowd which summed up for me the spirit of Beirut’s life-force and the strength of its people.
I explored this vibrant, resilient city during those fourteen unexpected days, meeting wonderful people and marveling at how fate gave me the opportunity to take to my heart a place I have been yearning to return to ever since. I’m devastated by this explosion and my heart is broken for its victims and those made homeless.
But Beirut will rise again. Long live Beirut.
Mike Raddie writes:
I spent six weeks in Lebanon from December 2018 and fell in love with the place and the people. It’s hard to think of another country quite like it.
Much of my time there I was staying in the Mar Mikhael district of Beirut, very close to the port.
Friends there tell me the area is completely devastated. My friend Annie said she’s seen nothing like it, not even during the bloody war with Israel in 2006.
What’s so sad is this latest tragedy comes on on the back of ongoing political corruption, an economic crisis with rising food prices causing misery and deprivation and the recent covid pandemic which had stretched the health care system to breaking point. Even the most advanced Western countries would struggle to cope in such circumstances. And yet the US government maintains cruel and inhuman ecomonic sanctions on the people of Lebanon.
The Lebanese people are strong and resilient but they are angry and grieving. And they need our help.
This is three year old Alexandra Najjar. She died today from her wounds caused by the explosion at the port. Rest in peace little angel