International Report

Why the lights have gone out over Lebanon

August 4th marks the anniversary of the devastating explosion last year in the port of Beirut of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate unsafely stored in a warehouse, causing the deaths of more than 200 people and injuring more than 6,500 others. The blast accentuated an already severe economic and financial crisis in Lebanon, and has left it politically rudderless ever since. Amid high unemployment, soaring poverty and shortages of basic commodities, the population is now also struggling from constant power cuts, the result of withering institutional corruption which has all but paralysed its electricity network. Nada Maucourant Atallah reports from Beirut.

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Roula (last name withheld), a 50-year-old university professor, lives in Ashrafieh, traditionally an upmarket district of Beirut. For the past three weeks, the interminable electricity outages in Lebanon have become critical. “Since several months, the electricity cuts became more and more frequent, but a few weeks ago the situation clearly deteriorated,” she said. “I remained in the dark for three consecutive days. Nowadays it’s about one and a half hours of electricity per day.”

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