One year after deadly explosion in Lebanese capital, grieving families who lost their children continue to seek justice.
Beirut, Lebanon – August 4, 2020, began as a mundane morning for Samer Tibati, a Syrian worker from Lattakia, living in the semi-industrial Karantina neighbourhood near the Beirut port.
“My daughter Bissan came up to me, told me she loved me, and asked me for some money,” Tibati told Al Jazeera. “She then bought chocolate and gave it to everyone living on our street.”
Later that day, the devastating Beirut port explosion tore through the neighbourhood, badly wounding the seven-year-old girl. He ran to her, cradled her in his arms, and tried to find someone to take them to a hospital.
Tibati hopped on the back of a motorcycle driver who offered them a ride. It took hours until they found a hospital that had room for Bissan.
“It looked like pieces of shrapnel from a bomb pierced into her,” Tibati recalled. “The doctors said it was critical, but I would keep asking every day if she could get better.”
Seven days later, Bissan died.
The explosion killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and flattened several neighbourhoods in the Lebanese capital. Bissan was one of at least seven children killed in the disaster; the youngest was just five months old.
“I have a portrait of her on the wall, and I look at her while I have my morning coffee,” Tibati said. “And then I hear her voice saying ‘Dad, please help me,’ but I can’t help her.”
One year later, Tibati is still in a world of pain. He still struggles to hold back his tears whenever he talks about his daughter. “Look how lovely she is,” he said as his voice trembled, scrolling through dozens of photos and videos of her on his phone. “She was just a child.”
Tibati had left Syria five years before the explosion to secure a safer life for Bissan and his two-year-old son Hassan. Instead, he faced one of the worst days of his life in Beirut. He is worried that his wife and Hassan could meet a similar fate, because he fears something similar could happen again.
“I already lost my daughter, and I’m not willing to lose the rest of my family,” he said.
As Lebanon marks the first anniversary of the port explosion on Wednesday, grieving families who lost their children continue to demand truth and justice in vain.