MONTREAL | Several Montrealers of Lebanese origin were in shock Wednesday. In addition to seeing the port and much of the city of Beirut go up in smoke the day before, some of them still could not reach their relatives.
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Since the explosions on Tuesday, Ephrem Tabbakh’s eyes have been riveted on screens in search of information. The 60-year-old, who now lives in the Ahuntsic district, tries in vain to join his relatives who live a little more than half an hour from the site of the explosion.
“Lebanon did not need this catastrophe. [En plus] from COVID-19, we were really having difficult times from an economic point of view. Lebanon is in debt up to its neck and cannot get by. It puts people in hard, hard, hard problems, ”he lamented Wednesday.
The shock is “horrible” for Beatrice Moukhaiber, a multidisciplinary artist who arrived with her family eight years ago from Lebanon, where many of her aunts, uncles and cousins still live.
She has received several news from her relatives, but is still pending in other cases. “I’m still waiting for a lot of news from people I know, from friends, that we haven’t found yet. It’s very difficult, ”she said.
ALEX PROTEAU / 24 HOURS / QMI AGENCY
At the time of writing, Montrealer Ephrem Tabbakh, who poses here with his sister Saidi Tabbakh, could not reach his Lebanese relatives.
Ms. Moukhaiber points out that the explosions occurred in the most cosmopolitan part of the country. “All the big art galleries, the restaurants, the pedestrian streets, it’s all there. […] All the sophistication of this country is in that corner and now there is nothing left. It’s as if we have been pushed back 30-40 years, maybe more, ”she says.
George Bahl, who also lives in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough, could not sleep on Tuesday night. The desk where her sister works turned into a pile of dust in seconds. Luckily, she had left the scene five minutes before the event, but her shoulder received a few shards of glass. “She told me it was like a nuclear bomb. As soon as she closes her eyes, she sees what happened, ”he said.
“I cried last night. What do you want me to do? I can’t do anything for them [sa sœur et sa nièce âgée de deux ans]», Said the native of Beirut.
The pandemic makes travel very difficult, but even if it were possible to get there, it would be difficult to help, some believe. “Even if we are able to leave, our actions are minimal compared to what we can do. There are not enough shelters for the population. The next few days will be very dark for Beirut, ”lamented Karim Abou Mehri, who arrived in Montreal in 2017 to study management.
Beatrice Moukhaiber, who has not been to Lebanon since 2013, would like to return there eventually. “If I can help and be able to rebuild a country, especially seeing my family and rediscovering my identity,” she says.
Ephrem Tabbakh does not plan to return there, although he is deeply touched by the situation. “I haven’t been there since 1975. Me, I prefer to keep Lebanon as I have known it,” he said.
“It hurts to see that, because here we enjoy security and we still complain […]. Over there, people don’t have all the advantages that we have here. You work your whole life and you end up with nothing, ”he added.