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World in Lebanon, 9 months after the explosion of the port, the heritage of Beirut in danger

17:55  27 april  2021
17:55  27 april  2021 Source:   rfi.fr

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L’explosion du 4 août pourrait porter le coup de grâce aux maisons rescapées car avec la crise économique, leurs propriétaires n’ont plus les moyens de les reconstruire. © Thibault Lefébure / RFI The explosion of August 4 could bear the blow of grace to the rescued houses because with the economic crisis, their owners no longer have the means to rebuild them.

in Beirut, the inhabitants struggle to rebuild the heritage destroyed during the explosion of the port on August 4th 2020. The deflagration has heavily damaged hundreds of "Beiruthines" houses, an architecture combining oriental and Western traditions. In the middle of the economic and political crisis, Lebanon no longer has the means to restore what constitutes the cultural and historical soul of its capital.

with our correspondent in Beirut,

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"here was my parents' room. My father was sitting in this room during the explosion. You can still see the traces of his blood on the walls. Christelle Chaoul makes us visit what's left of his family home. On 4 August last, the deflagration of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrates stored in a harbor shed, a few hundred meters from her, moved the walls in old stones . The colored windows of the ogive windows have shattered. Marble balconies have collapsed. The ceilings of this nineteenth century house only keep through dozens of steel beams.

"It's disabling. Nobody from the government or state has taken the initiative to come and see us to know how we were going, if we had enough money to live elsewhere or if we could rebuild our house "is indignant Christelle. Eight months after the drama that ravaged his district of Mar Michael, this young mother seeking by all means to rebuild a family heritage transmitted for four generations. "My father was born in this room. This house is all for him, she explains. These walls are our roots, our identity ".

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Restoring the dwellings of the neighborhood thanks to private gifts

of the old stones, fragments of the Lebanese architectural history, that the real estate speculation and the absence of standards had begun to put into pieces: in recent decades, many buildings traditional have been shaved and replaced by modern buildings. The explosion of August 4th could well bear the blow of the rescued homes, because with the economic crisis their owners no longer have the means to rebuild them. "Our money is blocked at the bank," Grisse Christelle, whose renovation site is estimated at $ 150,000.

To bring together this sum, the young woman was able to count on the Beirut Heritage Initiative , which restores the dwellings of the neighborhood thanks to private donations, including the diaspora. "With very small means, we do the job that the municipality should do", assures Fadlo Dagher one of the founders. Since the first day, this architect whose home has also been destroyed by the explosion, puts its know-how in the service of Beiruts. "We want to see this city living, and for it to live, it is not necessary for its inhabitants to leave it. So, you have to rehabilitate their homes.

According to estimates, it would take $ 300 million to rebuild hundreds of traditional buildings damaged by the deflating of August 4th. Funds arriving in the dropper, in a Lebanon in the full financial and political crisis.

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