Power Failure Forces the Lebanese to Sleep on Balconies

Thursday 29 July 202103:25 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

انقطاع الكهرباء في لبنان يجبر أشخاصاً كثراً على النوم في الشرفات

Some families in Lebanon, due to the long and frequent power outages, have stopped sleeping in their bedrooms in Beirut, and have begun sleeping on balconies. This is what the lens of journalist Zakaria Jaber captured, after he posted on his social media page a photo showing four people sleeping on mattresses that they had dragged outside onto the balcony of their house, leaving their night of restless sleep quite visible to their neighbors.

The lack of electricity is greatly disrupting people’s lives, so much so that the ability to work has become almost impossible. Even private and public institutions have begun to announce that they have stopped working due to the scarcity of diesel fuel, which is necessary to power electricity generators.

The economic collapse upended everything in the lives of the Lebanese… It has even reached their beds, forcing them to sleep outdoors.

Zakaria tells Raseef22 the story of how the photo came to be, “The photo was taken in the Achrafieh district at six in the morning. I had woken up from sleep sweating due to the power outage and wanted to open the window so that a little air could enter the room I was suffocating in. This is how I saw four people completely covering their eyes and bodies and sleeping on top of their mattresses on the balcony. It is clear in the photo that they decided to protect their bodies from the mosquitoes that have spread and multiplied due to the heat wave. I took the photo and made sure not to show any faces out of respect for their privacy, and I posted it on my page with the phrase: A slow death in the city of Beirut, where there is no life.”

Speaking on the criticism that Jaber was subjected to after posting the photo, which some saw as a breach of the family’s privacy, he says, “There is no difference between me and them. We are all in the same place and we are all suffering. The scene that I conveyed through the photo is a scene that we all experience here in Lebanon due to the economic collapse and due to our need to sleep in a place with a little bit of breathing air. And the picture conveys the reality of the situation in the country well. The question for me does not revolve around privacy but about the reasons that led an entire family to move and sleep out in the open. And I want to affirm that I was not trying to insult or offend the family. Rather, I was seeking to convey the general situation that we are all suffering from, and that which clearly appeared before me.”

Online on social media sites, opinions were divided between those who opposed posting the photo and those who thought that it should be spread because it represents a reality we are all going through and can no longer hide from.

On her page, journalist Layal Saad wrote, “It is 6:00 am. Photo by Zakaria Jaber. At any rate, on Monday, Najib Mikati will become prime minister, and all our problems will be resolved.”

It is not normal in 2021 to see people sleeping on balconies in the stifling heat, just to be able to feel a breeze.

As for the photojournalist Hussein Baydoun, he wrote, “Regarding the controversy over this photo by my friend and colleague Zakaria Jaber, I would like to add two points: The first point is that Zakaria respected the privacy of the people and what showed of their faces. And the second point is, no, it is not normal in 2021 to see people sleeping on balconies nad terraces just to be able to feel a breeze of air because there is no electricity! Just as a reminder and for the record, we are no longer in the nineties!”

Whether we agree or not with the picture, the reality has become quite clear. The economic collapse encompasses everything in the lives of individuals in Lebanon, it has even reached their bedrooms and their beds, kicking them out into the open. The picture we saw today is nothing but the result of a series of crises that are preventing people from their right toa good night’s sleep.

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