“We Are So Poor That My Brothers Died For a Few Drops of Gasoline”

Dawsseh is a poor and remote village in Akkar, the poorest caza in Lebanon and the one with the largest number of Syrian refugees. In Dawsseh, four people were killed in Sunday explosion, two brothers in each family.

Mouein Chreiteh is receiving condolences in a tent erected at the entrance of his house as is the customs in this region for such circumstances. He has just lost his two children, Jalal 16 and Khaled 20. His third 28-year-old son was injured. It was him who broke the news to his father.

My sons died for 50,000 liras (2.5 USD),” he says, his voice barely audible. This is in fact the price of 10 liters of gasoline that the two young men planned to take home.

Here, we lack everything: water, electricity, fuel, generator… We are left behind and because we are destitute, we have been used like cannon fodder. We are begging for bread, milk, food. Even for DNA tests that would identify my children’s bodies; it takes twice as long as elsewhere in the country. Lebanon is on the brink, I know. But with the death of my two sons, I really have nothing to lose.

Sitting in the living room, his daughter Fida, 24 years old, has an icy gaze. Fida, who has an eight-month-old child, has not only lost her two brothers, but her 28-year-old husband is seriously burned also. He was taken to the American University of Beirut hospital. “Sixty percent of his body is burned. I haven’t spoken to him yet. He doesn’t know my two brothers are dead. He was with them at the time of the explosion,” she said, staring into the void. Her silence contrasts with her mother’s long sobs coming from the next room.

We, the people of Akkar, are the living dead. We have no resources, struggling with poverty for ages, and every month we are pulling the devil by the tail. My husband is a soldier, his salary is barely enough to buy diapers and milk for our daughter. Otherwise, over the past year we have sold everything to try and make ends meet… but in vain. We are so poor that my brothers died for a few drops of gasoline,” she adds.

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