Christians in Beirut are fighting back after landgrabbers are seeking opportunities to profit on the capital’s explosion last week. Many victims are being persuaded to sell up their property and leave the area.
300,000 families were displaced by the blast on 4th August where 200 people died and over 6000 were injured.
It’s thought 3000 tonnes of unchecked fertilizer is responsible for the explosion.
In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need Monsignor Toufic Bou-Hadir said: “People want to stay. A number of the old people – and younger ones too – are staying in their homes even ones that are damaged.”
“We do not want to change the demography. The land does not only have material value. It is our dignity. It is where we have our roots.”
He went on to stress that Christian districts of Beirut bore the brunt of the explosion,
Church leaders say they are now working with politicians to frustrate landgrabbers by passing legislation that stops people having to sell their homes.
Thousands of volunteers and aid workers have come together to clear the debris and get the city back on track.
Mgr Bou-Hadir, who is director of the Maronite Patriarchal Commission for Youth, had particular praise for the young people, who he said had been working hard as volunteers to clear the streets of debris and provide emergency supplies to families.
But he stressed that Beirut’s road to recovery would be long and complicated.
“Now people are taking in the full impact of what has happened and they are realising just how hard and difficult the future will be, but our hope is Christ.”