The head of the United Nations called for an investigation until 2020 The explosion in the Lebanese port killed 216 people

On a trip to Lebanon, United Nation Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation into the August 4, 2020 explosion in Beirut, saying the victims’ families deserve the full truth.

Explosions last year tore through the capital after hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse caught fire. It left at least 216 people dead and thousands more injured.

According to a report from Human Rights Watch, officials from several government agencies, including the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, became aware that ammonium nitrate had been stored next to explosive materials. for almost six years and did nothing about it.

Details such as why so many explosives were stored and why officials ignored it even though the Lebanese government opened an investigation more than a year ago.

The official investigation has stalled as no one has been prosecuted and the politicians have not cooperated with requests for questioning. NPR reported. Many potential defendants have sought to remove principal investigator judge Tarek Bitar for alleged unfairness.

Many victims’ families and survivors have demanded a more transparent investigation.

Guterres said: “I have received messages from many victims asking for the truth to be established, needing an independent investigation that can bring out the truth. “I fully understand their concerns and I hope that organizations will be able to ensure that.”

Antonio Guterres, Beirut, Lebanon, memorial
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday said the international community was not doing enough to support Lebanon, which is grappling with a severe economic crisis and home to more than 1 million refugees. Syria. Pictured above, Guterres lays a wreath in front of the Statue of Martyrs on December 20, 2021, at the damaged site of the August 4, 2020, massive explosion that hit the seaport in Beirut, Lebanon.
Hassan Ammar / AP Photo

Standing in the rain, Guterres, who was visiting Lebanon, laid a wreath at a memorial named after the victims in the Beirut Harbor area of ​​​​the explosion.

Late Monday, Guterres tweeted, urging a fair and transparent investigation: “The Lebanese people deserve the truth.” And after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, he reiterated his support for the families’ action for justice.

The local investigation, led by Judge Tarek Bitar, has faced many challenges, including criticism from powerful politicians and lawsuits from defendants that have questioned the fairness of the case. its equal.

Disagreements over the work of judges have paralyzed the government. The powerful Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and two allied groups have demanded that Bitar be replaced.

Guterres called on Lebanon’s political leaders to work together through the country’s many crises, particularly the economic one that has plunged the once middle-income country into poverty.

The head of the United Nations arrived in Lebanon on Sunday for a three-day visit. He said he was here to show solidarity with the Lebanese people and call on the international community to give more financial support to the country in need of humanitarian assistance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Port of Beirut, Lebanon, explosion
More than a year after the devastating explosion in Beirut that killed at least 216 people, the families of the victims are still searching for answers. Above is an overview of the area where the explosion occurred at the port of Beirut on December 3, 2021 in Beirut, Lebanon.
Image by Contigo / Getty Images The head of the United Nations called for an investigation until 2020 The explosion in the Lebanese port killed 216 people

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