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MORNING BRIEF

Lebanese mourn two years since Aug. 4, calls for investigation into port blast, ship to sail to Syria: Everything you need to know to start your Thursday

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Thursday, Aug. 4:

Lebanese mourn two years since Aug. 4, calls for investigation into port blast, ship to sail to Syria: Everything you need to know to start your Thursday

The Beirut port, shortly after the blast in August 2020. (L'Orient Today/João Sousa)

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As Lebanon mourns the second anniversary of the devastating Beirut port explosion and observes an official holiday in remembrance, the damaged silos continue to be on the brink of further collapse. A French civil engineer monitoring the silos using tilt sensors told L’Orient Today yesterday that the next collapse of between four and 10 silos could occur “at any time” and will be of a significantly greater magnitude than the collapse of four silos last Sunday. As of yesterday, the silos were tilting at a rate of up to 13 millimeters per hour, roughly double their previous rate of tilting. The army evacuated port workers from a 500-meter radius and traffic authorities said they closed the road next to the port yesterday. This afternoon at least three marches demanding justice for the victims of the explosion will take place — starting from the Justice Palace, the an-Nahar building and the fire station in Karantina, at 3 p.m., 4 p.m., and 4 p.m., respectively. All three will converge at the Statue of the Emigrant next to the port.

Yesterday, survivors of the Aug. 4, 2020 port explosion and some international organizations called on the UN Human Rights Council to launch a fact-finding mission into the circumstances of the explosion. “It is now, more than ever, clear that the domestic investigation cannot deliver justice, making the establishment of an international fact-finding mission mandated by the UN Human Rights Council all the more urgent,” they wrote in a statement released a day ahead of the anniversary of the blast. This is the third such letter to the Human Rights Council; an additional letter was sent to the High Commissioner for Human Rights in March. The statement accused the international community of failing to heed their demands and recognize “the importance of uncovering the truth behind the Beirut Port explosion, to break the cycle of impunity and recurrence at a crucial juncture in Lebanon’s history.”

The Ukrainian government asked Lebanon’s top prosecutor to reopen a probe into the Syrian-flagged ship docked in Tripoli that is carrying 10,000 tons of flour and barley that Ukraine claims was stolen. But yesterday, the Tripoli Harbor Master granted the ship permission to set sail. Caretaker Minister of Public Works Ali Hamieh said the ship is now allowed to leave “in accordance with the Lebanese legal principles, based on our sovereignty over our land, sea and sky.” Ukraine’s ambassador to Lebanon said the request to reopen the probe was based on new evidence gathered by a Ukrainian judge. Ukrainian authorities say the ship took on cargo at a Russian-controlled port in occupied Crimea that is closed to international shipping.

Caretaker Social Affairs Minister Hector Hajjar apologized for a delay in Emergency Social Safety Net payments yesterday, saying they will begin next week. The main factor behind the delay, he said, is the public employees’ strike, which has shut down much government work in recent weeks. More than 61,000 households are receiving ESSN payments to date, while social workers are reviewing other applicants to ensure they meet the criteria. More than 580,000 households registered to receive benefits amidst soaring poverty in the country.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday:The volunteers of the Beirut blast: Where are they now?


Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.As Lebanon mourns the second anniversary of the devastating Beirut port explosion and observes an official holiday in remembrance, the damaged silos continue to be on the brink of further collapse. A French civil engineer monitoring the silos using tilt sensors told L’Orient Today yesterday that the next collapse of between four and...