4 August 2020 to 4 August 2021 — One year ago to the day, a massive double explosion hit the port of Beirut. The human toll was heavy: more than 200 dead, more than 6,000 injured, 300,000 families left homeless. The capital’s neighbourhoods were devastated and disfigured for miles around. Burnt-out cars, glass-strewn streets, houses and shops reduced to rubble, the apocalyptic scene will forever remain in the annals of the city and etched in the hearts and minds of the people of Lebanon, scarred by the tragedy.
Nevertheless, resilience and the instinct of survival soon took over. The young armed with nothing but brooms to clean their city soon rushed to the rescue of their capital. The international community expressed its solidarity with the Lebanese people. Visiting Beirut on 27 August 2020, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, launched the Li Beirut (For Beirut) initiative from across the port. The initiative aims to mobilize the international community to support the reconstruction of the city’s educational and cultural sectors. “Beirut, a world city, a city of memory, a creative city, was in a few seconds, bruised in its flesh, in its deepest identity,” Ms Azoulay said in her appeal, which marked the beginning of a long year on the road to reconstruction.