NGOs call on UN for international investigation into Beirut explosion

A group of 37 human rights experts from different NGOs have asked the UN Human Rights Commission on Wednesday for a “rapid and independent” international investigation into the explosion in Beirut two years ago that claimed the lives of more than 200 people.

“The colossal deadly explosion in Beirut on 4 August (2020) requires a prompt and independent investigation that underscores international human rights obligations, clarifies responsibilities related to the explosion and leads to justice and accountability,” the human rights experts said in a statement.

The powerful explosion, which occurred just two years ago, occurred when a stockpile of ammonium nitrate stored in a port warehouse exploded, destroying 77,000 apartments, injuring 7,000 people, displacing more than 300,000 and leaving at least 80,000 children homeless, according to UN data.

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Two years after the incident, the ravages of the blast are still being felt in Beirut and Lebanon, both environmentally and in terms of “human devastation.”

“The catastrophic explosion occurred when Lebanon was already facing a devastating political, economic and financial crisis, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a sharp deterioration in the protection of Human Rights and much suffering,” the 37 experts recalled in the missive.

In this sense, they have assured that the explosion and its consequences would have brought to light “systemic” problems of a “negligent” government, as well as widespread corruption. They also pointed out that the national investigation process has been blocked on several occasions, which is why the families of the victims have asked the international community for an independent investigation.

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“This tragedy marked one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in recent history, but the world has done nothing to find out why it happened (…) On the second anniversary of the explosion, we are disheartened that people in Lebanon are still waiting for Justice, and we call for an international investigation to be launched without delay,” the NGO members, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch or Legal Action International, have asked.

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