“In Akkar, We Are Born, We Live And We Die In Poverty”

Omar is among the survivors of Sunday’s explosion. Wearing bandages on his calves and forearms, he was among the rare casualties who were slightly burnt.  He saw his brother and his cousin transformed before his eyes into living torches.

Still in shock, Omar talks about the explosion.

“The gasoline that came from the tank was strewn on the ground and the pipe that carried it was very large. By filling our gallons, we had our hands full of gasoline. And then when it all exploded, people turned into living torches, the burning gasoline trails followed those who wanted to flee. I am very lucky. My brother and cousin were standing next to me. In no time they were charred.”

“I was taken to a dispensary not far from the village. The nurses treated my burns. I have to go back in three days. The ointment tube costs 108,000 pounds, 5.5 USD. I don’t know how many I will need or how to pay for it. I earn 1, 2 million Liras (60 USD); and I already don’t know how I have to juggle so it lasts until the end of the month,” he says.

Omar is married and he is a father of two young children.

“In Akkar, we are born, we live and we die in poverty,” he says, his eyes filled with sadness.

Akkar is the poorest region in Lebanon and hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees in the country. It lacks hospitals, schools and work opportunities. And the multiple crises that have affected Lebanon for more than eighteen months have plunged the population deeper into poverty.

“We have electricity for half an hour a day. We have no generators and we cannot afford the black market’s fuel and gasoline. Now you know why around 100 people have flocked from many villages to fill up gasoline gallons”, he said.

“If we weren’t in need, if these few liters of gasoline weren’t crucial for us, we would have never been to Tleil (the village where the tanker of gasoline that was prepared to be smuggled had been seized) and my family members would have never died ”.

The name has been changed to preserve anonymity

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