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Special Report: Lebanon's pollution crisis

Lebanon's beaches are polluted and environmental problems are forcing activists to take to the streets
Lebanon's beaches are polluted and environmental problems are forcing activists to take to the streets FRANCE 24 screengrab

Protesters in Lebanon have for several weeks demanded an overhaul of the country’s political system they say is dominated by elites who have steered the economy towards collapse. Sectarian politics is also being blamed for serious environmental problems like overflowing trash and polluted beaches. Our reporters visited the Beirut coastline to learn more.

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Beaches too polluted for swimming, insufficient recycling and trash piling up in the streets are just some of the environmental issues enraging activists in Lebanon. In 2015, the country’s trash crisis peaked after the biggest landfill facility closed its doors, leaving rubbish to accumulate all over Beirut. New landfills built by the government quickly reached capacity.

Environmental activist Ajwad Ayache said Lebanon’s environmental problems are not so easy to fix.

“The gases that come from this dumpsite -- the methane and so many other gases -- are dangerous for us to breathe,” Ayache said. “The metals combined with the organic materials when it is absorbed by the soil and goes to the sea, the fish is eating the product and then we eat the fish. So we are literally poisoning ourselves.”

This week, some activists rallied outside the Costa Brava landfill in Beirut to demand its closure, saying it is a health hazard.

Last month Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri was forced from office following demonstrations and calls for his resignation. The fallout from his ouster has left Lebanon once again without the political leadership it needs to tackle its environmental challenges.

Click on the video above to view FRANCE 24's special report by Nadia Massih, Mohammed Farhat and Zohra Ben Miloud.
 

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