Clashes break out in Beirut over trash crisis

Clashes break out in Beirut over trash crisis
# 09 October 2015 04:24 (UTC +04:00)

On Thursday evening, the protesters converged in downtown Beirut and were marching peacefully before some demonstrators sought to remove safety barriers and block a road.

Security forces, in return, fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.

"This isn't a political issue, this is a sanitation issue that affects the whole country," one protester, requesting not to be named, said.

The Lebanese Red Cross said 35 demonstrators suffered excessive tear gas inhalation.

At least 25 supporters of the so-called “You Stink” movement, which emerged earlier this year in protest at the government’s failure to collect garbage from the streets of Beirut, were also arrested.

The Lebanese police said several of its members were injured after protesters “hurled rocks and solid objects” at them.

A statement released by one of the protest organizers called for the resignation of the country's Environment Minister Mohammed Machnouk over his failure to resolve the rubbish accumulation crisis in the Lebanese capital.

“Remove the garbage that has been accumulating outside our homes,” the statement read.

“They continued their procrastination until the arrival of rain. Release the funds of municipalities, scrap the contracts of Sukleen (Lebanon's waste management company) and start activating the waste sorting plants,” it pointed out.

“You Stink” was launched after the Environment Ministry closed its largest Naameh landfill on July 17 because it had been filled up, without offering an alternative.

Garbage from the city used to be disposed at the Naameh landfill in the mountainous region southeast of the capital. Since its closure, garbage collectors have stopped taking the garbage away, saying they have no place to dispose it.

The movement has since evolved into wider protests against alleged corruption in the government and among high-level officials.