Lebanese authorities announced on Monday, August 17, that the ongoing state of emergency in Beirut has been extended until September 18. The state of emergency was first declared following the Port of Beirut explosion on August 4, and it gives the Lebanese Army extensive powers to curb free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press, as well as to enter the homes and arrest those deemed a security threat. The state of emergency is in place amid ongoing recovery operations from the explosion, and as protests in Beirut have intensified.
Further protests and clashes with security forces are possible in Beirut in the immediate term, in addition to a heightened security presence. Disruptions are to be expected as recovery operations are carried out across Beirut.
An explosion that occurred in the Port of Beirut on August 4 killed at least 177 people, injured 6000 others, and caused billions of Lebanese Pounds in damages. The blast is believed to have been caused by 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which had been unsafely stored in the area. A state of emergency was initially declared on August 5, and 20 officials responsible for the operation of the port have so far been placed under arrest.
Allegations of mismanagement regarding the substance's storage come during sustained unrest since October 2019 over corruption and economic hardship within the country whereby protesters have called for reforms to the governance of Lebanon.
Those in Beirut, and across Lebanon, are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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