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HRW: years of burning garbage in Lebanon having detrimental health effects

Dec 02

People and municipalities in Lebanon have resorted to burning garbage as a result of government mismanagement, causing detrimental health effects, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported [HRW report] Friday.

Lebanon's waste crisis erupted in 2015 when authorities closed the main landfill site near Beirut without arranging an alternative. Garbage began piling up in the streets, and people began burning the garbage.

HRW said in their report that the open burning of waste 'may have serious consequences for the health of people living nearby.' Nearby residents have reportedly suffered an array of health problems due to frequent inhalation of smoke. These problems include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and skin conditions. In addition to these immediate health concerns, some residents have stated that worrying about more serious health effects has affected them psychologically.

The lack of effective governmental action in addressing this waste crisis violates [HRW press release] Lebanon's obligations to environmental protection under international law. It also violates Lebanon's own environmental protection laws. HRW urged the Ministry of Environment to hold violators accountable and also urged the Ministry of Health to monitor the health effects of the pollution, publicize the results and advise residents on managing their health risks.