­Sherbrooke’s Lebanese population reacts to ­explosion in Beirut

By Michael Boriero – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
­Sherbrooke’s Lebanese population  reacts to ­explosion in Beirut

Sherbrooke’s Association des Libanais is mobilizing after a devastating explosion erupted in the port of Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut Tuesday, killing at least 137 people and displacing hundreds of thousands of residents in the surrounding area.
“Our goal right now here in Sherbrooke is to raise some funds and to ultimately send the proceeds to the Lebanese Red Cross – I don’t know what to say, there’s no words to express this,” said Amenah Abouhassan, a member of the Lebanese group.
Abouhassan was born in Windsor, Ontario, but she spent five years of her childhood in Lebanon. Her parents immigrated to Canada at a young age, but the family often takes trips to visit their home country. Her connection to Lebanon runs deep, she explained.
“When I first heard about it, my family that’s in Lebanon sent me a video, and I was like, ‘What is this? What am I seeing here?’ and I’m so sad for the people who have to go through this,” she said.
Her uncle who lives two hours away from Beirut was also caught up in the chaos, Abouhassan added. He was down in the capital to visit a fair, but managed to escape unscathed. This whole situation is due to negligence, she concluded.
Lebanon’s government impounded a ship carrying roughly 2,750 metric tons of explosive ammonium nitrate in 2013. The material was stored in a warehouse in the port for six years, despite calls from locals to move the dangerous chemicals.
“It’s going to cause some kind of hurt and pain in these people that are already suffering and I can only imagine that they would want the government to be pushed out,” said Abouhassan.
People are suffering through economic collapse and coronavirus restrictions, she added, and the government has been at the centre of all of it. Suddenly, a large portion of the city is now homeless, too.
“It’s just the economic collapse, people there are living in poverty, they have no food, electricity and now there are 300,000 people who don’t have shelter on top of everything,” Abouhassan said.

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