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Lebanon’s post-explosion economy, one year on: Chief economist weighs in

By: The Kabul Times

The Beirut Port explosion on August 4 last year not only caused the Lebanese capital’s port to go up in smoke, but it reverberated across the capital and surrounding areas, causing immense widespread physical, mental and economic damage.
On Wednesday, Lebanon marks a year since the blast, the country’s worst-ever peacetime disaster. The Beirut blast, which killed 214 people, was equivalent to a 3.3 to 4.5 magnitude earthquake.
It was one of the world’s biggest non-nuclear explosions to ever be recorded. Stored in a warehouse for six years, the large amounts of ammonium nitrate exploded and injured 6,500 people.
It left the Lebanese capital in shambles, with over 300,000 people homeless and 70,000 jobless. It also left 73,000 apartments, 9,200 buildings, 163 schools and education centers, 106 healthcare facilities damaged.
Prior to the blast, the country was already grappling with an out-of-control pandemic and instability, years of corruption and national debt brought on by the ruling elite.
Al Arabiya English spoke with Chief Economist and head of Research at Bank Audi Marwan Barakat to better understand the state of the country now and how the blast worsened matters.
“The explosion actually further worsened the country’s economic conditions, bearing in mind that Lebanon was already caught under an unprecedented macros crisis [before the blast] that drove it into real sector depression, monetary drift and huge socio-economic pressures at large,” said Barakat.
“The World Bank Group, in cooperation with the United Nations and the European Union launched a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDNA) immediately after the explosion, to estimate the impact on the population, physical assets, infrastructure and service delivery in Beirut, utilizing ground data and cutting-edge remote tools and technology. The estimate of the damages and losses to the economy stands at an upper bound of circa $8 billion, very significant when compared to the size of the Lebanese economy,” he added.

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