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Conflict Incident Report
Crowds brave sandstorm in latest trash protest
Several thousand protesters poured into Downtown Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square Wednesday despite a sandstorm to participate in the latest demonstration by the You Stink campaign against the political class and the garbage crisis.
Crowds coming from different areas of the country, including Tripoli, Akkar, Mount Lebanon and Sidon, arrived at the square hours after politicians held a national dialogue session that ended with no breakthroughs or viable solutions to the ongoing domestic crises.
Activists from Lebanon’s different districts made one-minute speeches on the different environmental problems plaguing their areas.
“In Tripoli, we have a garbage dump with an altitude that exceeds 35 meters in altitude, we have an unemployment rate of 75 percent and 70 percent among our youth,” an activist from the northern city said. “I call on all Tripoli residents to unite because the politicians do not represent us.”
Ali Qanso, who hails from the southern district of Nabatieh, said his area had a waste treatment plant but it is not operational because of political corruption. He said a number of illegal garbage dumps have spread in Nabatieh, creating foul odors and toxic emissions.
A representative from Akkar is Not a Dump, a recent campaign against a plan to create a garbage dump in the northern district, addressed MPs representing the area saying: “None of you represents us. We are the people of Akkar, we have our own word and we have dignity.”
“Iqlim al-Kharoub (an area in Mount Lebanon) is not anymore an emirate in the hand of one feudal lord or capitalist,” said an activist from the village of Barja, whose residents held several protests against creating a garbage dump in their area.
He said a large number of women from Barja suffer from breast cancer because of the illegal dumping of toxic waster in the area.
Security forces limited the protest to Martyrs' Square and prevented demonstrators from reaching Riad al-Solh Square, which is closer to the Parliament where the dialogue was held hours earlier.