STORY: Lebanon Blasts – OHCHR, WFP
TRT: 1 mins 56s
SOURCE: UNTV CH
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 3 August 2021 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
UN rights chief urges accountability for Beirut blasts, one year on
The people of Beirut need to see accountability for the deepening crisis they have faced after the devastating port blasts in the Lebanese capital 12 months ago, the UN right chief said on Tuesday.
“As despair deepens and anger mounts in Lebanon, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is today stressing the urgent need for the Lebanese Government to ensure a transparent, effective, thorough and impartial investigation into what happened last August and to hold those responsible accountable,” said Marta Hurtado, spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“One victim, who lost her husband, her brother and a cousin in the blast, said she would keep seeking the truth to her last breath,” she told journalists in Geneva. “The authorities must pursue investigations with similar resolve.”
Accompanying that call, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned that many families are finding it harder than ever to cope, a year since the 4 August catastrophe that destroyed large swathes of Beirut, leaving more than 200 dead and over 6,500 injured,
“In the year since the explosions in Beirut port, the currency has plunged to a fifteenth of its former value and inflation has put food out of reach for much of the population,” said WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri. “In June, WFP assisted nearly 400,000 vulnerable Lebanese, nearly 987,000 Syrian refugees and about 21,000 refugees of other nationalities.”
The alert comes a day ahead of an aid conference for Lebanon on the anniversary of the disaster, hosted by France and the UN, at which French President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped that more than $350 billion in emergency aid would be raised to help the country’s people get back on their feet.
“There was initially a powerful spirit of national solidarity as all elements of society came together in response, and the Government initiated judicial proceedings,” said OCHR’s Marta Hurtado. “But 12 months on, victims and their loved ones are still fighting for justice and truth. Investigations appear to have stalled, amid a worrying lack of transparency and accountability.”
In a related development, UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said on Tuesday that 98 per cent of families in Lebanon are still in need after the blasts.
The assessment highlighted the severity of the trauma children suffered and the dire needs families have experienced, which have been magnified by a collapsing economy, political instability and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey was conducted in July and based on telephone interviews with 1,187 households.
Reports indicate that an initial investigation into the port blasts has not made significant progress, in a year that has seen an ongoing financial crisis and political instability.