Another devastated Tripoli


The city of Tripoli in northern Lebanon curiously shares its name with a northern city in Libya, where clandestine prisons overcrowd sub-Saharan migrants who have been detained on their way to Europe. The Levantine country, unlike Libya, was torn apart more recently, in October 2019, when the country plunged into a deep economic crisis that seems to be getting more and more entangled and trapped, and which today has led Tripoli to become one of the poorest cities in the Levant.

I remember when I visited in September 2019. It was a frenetic Saturday in Tripoli, as the symptoms of the first anti-government protests were about to blossom, something was cooking, and not exactly chickpeas to make hummus with pine nuts. Al Mina, the beach from which the canoes now depart for what is now a glimmer of hope, Europe, was a quiet, serene place that conveyed the calm that the city centre lacked.

The city of markets, which once housed the country's main port, is now the mirror of the chaos in which Lebanon is immersed, and this misfortune is being paid for not only by the Lebanese, but also by its Syrian and Palestinian neighbours, who a few years ago sought refuge in the Phoenician country and are now struggling to have a decent future outside Tripoli. Yes, once again a broken Tripoli, now on the other side of the Mediterranean.