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On the first anniversary of the devastating explosion in Beirut port on 4 August 2020, Bill Kennedy of the UK’s sales and marketing agency Avicenna Partnerships has relaunched a crowd funding scheme to support those who work or used to work, in the book industry.
In a powerful note, Kennedy, who is one of the best known and most respected figures representing western publishers in the Arab World, reminds people that the blast and shockwave killed more than 2,000, injured countless others, rendered 300,000 homeless, and devastated much of the port region.
He says that since the blast the economic, fiscal, and social conditions in the country have continued to deteriorate. “According to the UN, more than 55% of the population is now trapped below the poverty line and this percentage continues to grow. The supply of safe running water is endangered because the infrastructure has had no maintenance for two years. There is little or no fuel for cars; the national power supplier can only provide 60 to 120 minutes of power per day, and pharma products and other basic necessities are running low.”
Kennedy paints a picture of a failing state whose ruling elite “continue to protect the non-transparent financial system which blocks the International Monetary Fund and other aid funding”. He believes the current political elite “have yet to form a functioning government after having devoted all their time over the last seven months attempting and failing to decide who gets what governmental position rather than focus on resolving the huge problems those who ‘elected’ them encounter every day”. All in all, a distressing and unhappy picture.
Of the fund-raiser, whose target is £15,000, he says: “Nothing we can do is going to be life-changing but every donation is going to show that we care, will lift spirits immeasurably at a time when there’s precious little happening locally to do so and be deeply appreciated.”
Donations can be made at – ‘Our friends in Beirut’ (https://www.gofundme.com/f/our-friends-in-beirut