Lebanon News

Tripoli residents protest over HRC compensations

A woman stands on a balcony where the wall is seen damaged following three days of clashes in the northern city of Tripoli, Tuesday, May 15, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Residents of Tripoli’s Bab al-Tabbaneh blocked one of the city’s main roundabouts for the second week in the row to demand compensation from the government’s Higher Relief Committee for damage sustained in recent fighting.

Protesters, who blocked the Abu Ali roundabout that links the northern city of Tripoli to Akkar vowed to keep the road closed until they get their compensation.

Last week, angry protestors briefly blocked the road and reopened it again after Prime Minister Najib Mikati vowed to pay their compensation by the end of the week. However, residents say no money has arrived.

“We will keep the road blocked until we get our money,” said protestor Walid Tabboush, speaking on behalf of the residents.

Residents also called on the Lebanese Cabinet to find a solution to their problem and called on the HRC to send them delegates to pay them their dues.

The last round of sectarian clashes in the northern city of Tripoli in October between the Sunni stronghold of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Alawite Jabal Mohsen left at least 9 killed and 25 wounded.

Although this round of clashes in Tripoli was sparked by the Oct. 19 assassination of senior security chief Wissam al-Hasan in Beirut’s Ashrafieh car explosion, violence fueled by sectarian rivalry is nothing new to the city.

Thirty-year-old mother of four, Iman al-Zohbi, told The Daily Star her house, which faces Jabal Mohsen, was severely damaged during the recent clashes, and she and her children have since been living with her sister.

“Every day, they say they are going to pay us the next day, and nothing ever happens. It is a vicious circle,” said Zohbi.

Another resident affected by the fighting, Osama Shomra, told The Daily Star that Bab al-Tebbanah residents are always treated like “second class” citizens.

“We have been suffering since 2005 and we never found anyone that would help us. We are blocking roads out of despair because we have no other choice,” said Shomra.

Shomra blamed the city’s lawmakers and Mikati for their situation. “When the Ashrafieh explosion broke out, Beirut lawmakers embraced the affected residents and secured them hotels to stay in until their homes get repaired. How come we, in Tababneh, are left alone to face all that?” he said.

In turn, Ahmad Arja told The Daily Star there are many innocent citizens who were not involved in the fighting, but are paying the price of the clashes.

“We are regular citizens who pay our bills and taxes. The state should compensate us for our loss and for the damages we suffered in clashes we had nothing to do with,” Arja said.

“Bab al-Tebbaneh residents have had enough being the victim that no one cares about,” said Tabboush.

Tripoli has witnessed at least five rounds of confrontations between the two neighborhoods since the start of the uprising in Syria.





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