Workers remove tonnes of rubbish as Beirut clean-up begins

Friday 18/03/2016
Back to temporary solutions

BEIRUT - Workers have begun removing tonnes of rubbish that have piled up around Beirut under a government plan to end an eight-month crisis that has sparked repeated protests.

Beirut's suburbs have been awash in trash for months following the closure in July of the country's largest landfill at Naameh, just south of the Lebanese capital.

Rubbish has piled up on beaches and in forests and riverbeds elsewhere in the country.

The government last week said it would temporarily reopen the landfill to ease the crisis, but civil society activists have opposed the plan, demanding a permanent, more environmentally sound solution.

Workers could be seen Sunday at Jdeideh, a suburb just north of Beirut, using front loaders to pack piles of trash into dozens of trucks.

Two other landfills in the Beirut suburbs are to be opened under the plan.

Naameh was set up in the early 1990s as a temporary measure. Activists and nearby residents have long opposed the use of the site but when it was shut in July no alternative was proposed.

Activists from the "You Stink" movement and other groups are demanding long-term solutions, including investment in recycling and the transfer of waste management duties to municipalities.

The movement has won widespread support for its efforts to tackle the crisis, including with online videos of mountains of trash festering across Lebanon.