Beirut blast: destroyed police station reopened after reconstruction

Germany funded the renovation of the city's damaged municipal police building

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Beirut's municipal police station's historic ochre building stood fully renovated on Wednesday nearly two years after a devastating blast in the Lebanese capital's port that killed at least 215 people and destroyed thousands of buildings.

Germany funded the $210,000 rehabilitation of the severely damaged police station, which lies close to the port and the Mediterranean Sea. It was carried out by the International Labour Organisation's Employment Intensive Infrastructure Programme in Lebanon and took eight months to complete.

The ILO prioritised it due to its importance for the “safety and security of Beirut's residents”, a statement released after the opening said. The building was restored while preserving its original architecture, thought to date back to the French Mandate period from 1923-1943.

Beirut’s municipal police station after the August 4, 2020, blast at Beirut’s port. Photo: ILO

The blast destroyed 640 historic buildings across Beirut, according to the UN. The investigation into its causes has been repeatedly blocked by Lebanese politicians who succeeded in removing the first judge appointed to the case and are currently trying to remove the second, Tarek Bitar.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Lebanon Najat Rochdi said that the rehabilitation of Beirut's municipal police building had generated more than 160 jobs. It also “created a more decent working environment for police officers who in turn will be able to provide better safety and security to local communities”, she said during Wednesday's ceremony.

“We hope Beirut’s police officers will again be able to execute their very important tasks as they were able to do prior to the horrific port explosion,” said the German ambassador to Lebanon, Andreas Kindl.

International organisations continue to restore neighbourhoods damaged by the blast, said ILO Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat.

“The ILO, on its part, has started rehabilitating the nearby Customs Directorate building and restoring and upgrading the pedestrian network in [the neighbourhood of] Karantina,” she added.

The governor of Beirut, Marwan Abboud, said that it was not possible to increase policemen's salaries, which are now worth less than one-sixteenth than they were before Lebanon's economic collapse started in 2019.

“We are at least providing them with a safe work environment,” said Mr Abboud.

Lebanon is currently negotiating a bailout package with the IMF and signed a tentative agreement last week that calls for drastic reforms before any aid can be disbursed.

Updated: April 14, 2022, 6:00 PM