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Groundtruths: Lebanon – Explosion and Implosion – The Life Saving Role of Good Governance (SDG16)

September 10 @ 10:00 am

Register Here


For almost seven years 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate sat unsafely stored in Beirut’s port, mere meters from the country’s national wheat reserves, people’s homes, hospitals, restaurants, bars and clubs. On August 4, 2020 it exploded, creating one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history. The blast killed at least 200 people, injured more than 6,000, and left 300,000 homeless. The Lebanese government hindered international rescue efforts, rejected an international inquiry into the cause of the explosion, and on August 10, resigned due to rising anger and protests. Protestors were faced with excessive levels of violence at the hands of the Lebanese security forces, with tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and birdshot pellets being shot indiscriminately at protesters mourning the loss of their loved ones, their homes, their city, and for many, their hopes. Lebanon was already in the midst of an economic crises (unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic) – with a 46% unemployment rate in 2018; a political crisis marked by systemic corruption, opacity, lack of accountability and the inability to provide basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation; projections of a poverty rate reaching over 50% with basic necessities like bread and sanitary products becoming out of reach for many; and civil unrest known locally as the October Revolution condemning decades of sectarian rule centred around former warlords from its civil war. Lebanon is also home to 1.5 millions refugees in a country of about 6 million people, the highest per capita rate in the world. This is only the latest of a long history of crises

We are pleased to announce “Groundtruths: Lebanon – Explosion and Implosion – The Life Saving Role of Good Governance (SDG16)”, a web panel featuring world-renowned guests. Join us to learn about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Lebanon, the historical and current context and conditions, and ways to act in solidarity with a population that has been suffering from local and regional crises for decades and whose famed “resilience” has effectively been tested.  

Through this panel presentation you will gain an understanding of:

  • The historical and political context of Lebanon, particularly post civil-war
  • The extent of the impact of these conditions and the, suffering of people in Lebanon – and address the myth of Lebanese resilience 
  • Effective (and ineffective) mechanisms for support and advocacy through this crisis

Three (or four) panelists will present on various aspects of the crisis  

  • Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish, Co-Director MA Program in Human Rights & the Arts, Bard College, will speak to the colonial, historical and post civil war political context of the country
  • Mr. Gad Elkoreh, Meghterbin Mejtemiin Montreal (United Diaspora in Montreal) will speak to the challenges, concerns, and hopes of the Lebanese people
  • Dr. Rita Rhayem, Executive Director of Caritas Lebanon, will speak to the humanitarian conditions on the ground, and the conditions for and needs of NGOs.
  • Mr. Ziad Abdel Samad, Executive Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development to speak about global picture and how this context and situation relates to Agenda 2030

The event will be moderated by Marc Attallah. Marc is a policy professional specialised in biodiversity and environmental diplomacy. Marc has an interdisciplinary academic background, with a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Global Affairs from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Manchester. For over two years he worked at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, exploring and promoting the use and establishment of protected areas for conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution. Born to Lebanese parents in Egypt, Marc has a keen personal and professional interest in the Southwest Asia and North Africa region

About the Presenters

Rita Rhayem

General  Director, Caritas Lebanon 

Holder of PharmD, diploma in hospital and clinical pharmacy and an MBA in health management Dr. Rita Rhayem currently holds the position of General Director at Caritas Lebanon. A passionate worker in the humanitarian field, she published in 2011 her book “Accreditation of NGOs health care centers” as a result of her experience as head of the health department at Caritas Lebanon. She is currently pursuing her education in gender studies.

Ziad Abu-Rish

Co-Director MA Program in Human Rights & the Arts, Bard College

Ziad Abu-Rish is Co-Director of the MA Program in Human Rights and the Arts, and Visiting Associate Professor of Human Rights, at Bard College. He is a 2020–21 Fellow in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. His research explores state formation, economic development, and popular mobilizations in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Lebanon and Jordan. Abu-Rish serves as Co-Editor of Arab Studies Journal and Jadaliyya, as well as Co-Director of the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) and the Lebanese Dissertation Summer Institute. He is also a Research Fellow at the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS).

Gad Elkoreh

Member, Meghterbin Mejtemiin

Born and raised in Beirut, Gad Elkoreh and his family moved to Canada 15 years ago and have been living in Montreal ever since. He is a Clinical Research Manager working in oncology drug development, and a member of Meghterbin Mejtemiin Montréal, the Montreal branch of Meghterbin Mejtemiin (United Diaspora), a global network connecting the Lebanese diaspora working together on initiatives to support the citizen-led Lebanese revolution that has been taking place since October 17th, 2019. 

Ziad Abdel Samad

Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), based in Beirut, since 1999. 

The ANND brings together 30 NGOs and nine national networks from 11 Arab countries active in the protection of social and economic rights. Mr. Samad is a member of several institutions and organisations including the coordination committee of the Civil Campaign for Electoral Reforms (CCER), the board of the Euro- Mediterranean NGO Platform, the UNDP CSO Advisory Committee to the Administrator, the advisory board of the Economic and Social Commission of West Asia (ESCWA), the advisory council of the International Centre for Non-Profit Law (ICNL), the global facilitation team of the Better Aid network, the Coordination Team of the Open Forum on CSO effectiveness, the Asia Advisory group of the Reality of Aid, the International Council of the World Social Forum and the Lebanese Negotiating Committee for the accession in the WTO. In addition, he is also the Co-Founder of the National Euromed Platform and General Manager of the Centre for Developmental Studies (MADA), a Lebanese Centre for social and economic studies and research.

Pre-Panel Resources / Reading



Groundtruths – Lebanon – Explosion and Implosion – The Life Saving Role of Good Governance (SDG16)

When: Thursday September 10, 2020 (10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time)

Where: Zoom

Cost: Free 

Register Here


September 10
10:00 am
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