Human Rights Watch: Lebanon choked by burning garbage

Beirut- People and municipalities have resorted to burning garbage in Lebanon as a result of government mismanagement and it may badly damage the health of nearby residents, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.

The waste crisis erupted in 2015 when the Lebanese authorities closed the main landfill site near Beirut, having arranged no alternative. Large protests broke out soon afterwards as huge mounds of rotting waste filled the streets and demonstrators chanted “You stink!” at the government.

Friday’s report by the U.S.-based monitoring group underlined how Lebanon has failed to find real solutions to the issue since then. (

It said people living near places where rubbish was burned reported chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coughing, throat irritation, skin conditions and asthma – all consistent with frequently breathing smoke from burning waste.

“The open burning of waste violates Lebanon’s environmental protection laws, which prohibit the emission of pollutants into the air, including harmful or disturbing smells,” HRW said.

LEBANON garbage burning
It called on the parliament to pass a law that the cabinet approved in 2012 to create a single body to make uniform national decisions about waste management.

Government ministers have repeatedly said it is illegal to burn rubbish in Lebanon.

The garbage crisis came to symbolize Lebanon’s wider political malaise as a bitterly divided parliament was unable to choose a new president or prime minister, leaving in place a caretaker government unable to take even basic decisions.

That phase of political crisis ended last year when a deal between the rival sides led to the appointment of Michel Aoun as president and Saad al-Hariri as prime minister. But they have not found a long-term solution to the waste crisis.

In 2016, the government established two temporary landfill sites near Beirut, but Human Rights Watch says they are mired in lawsuits and will be full by next year – two years sooner than the government had estimated.

During the seven months before they were opened, garbage was often burned in Beirut and the nearby region of Mount Lebanon.


  • Danny Farah

    Lebanon at it’s finest.. Water is polluted, Electricity comes 24 hours minutes according to Basil. The roads full of potholes. And the lebanese complain and no one listens. so why do you keep these ministers in place? why do you follow them? why do you let them manipulate you? These are the basic needs that should be handled long time ago. yet we pride ourselves in many things but we hide the dirt behind us so we can always look good. Look at the TV channels in Lebanon. Lots of fake people there. Lots of makeup, blonde hair, inflated boobs, men wearing earrings, growing beard yet priests are shaving them.. How funny! we want to look good on the outside be an average Lebanese or a representative in the government. they are all full of it. But i feel for the poor in Lebanon and their plight against a corrupt system that is so complicated and hard to fix. when will the masses wake up and have a big intafidah against those infidels in the government and I am not talking Christians here. the infidels are the Berries, Nassrallah’s, jumblats, harriri and gaegae and everybody else in the government. Time to rise and become a true nation.

    • Arzna

      It is sad indeed. Corruption as you correctly pointed out is the name of the game in Lebanon. The majority of the politicians are corrupt . Those who are not corrupt are very few and powerless. The problem in Lebanon is that the people end up following the corrupt because they are the ones in power and who can get things done through the other corrupt colleagues as they say “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. In other words the real garbage in Lebanon is our politicians and everyone knows it …they are a mafia. What Lebanon needs is a true grassroots revolution , but with illegal arms , millions of refugees and foreign influences I wonder what the end result will be . God help us!