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In Photos: Beirut's Massive, Mounting Trash Problem

Residents have been protesting the Lebanese government's inability to find a solution to the country's garbage crisis.

by VICE News
Jul 31 2015, 6:25pm

Wael Hamzah/EPA

After piling up for more than 10 days, waste collection has finally resumed in parts of Beirut, local media outlets are reporting Friday. But it doesn't look like the trash talk will end anytime soon, as the government is struggling to find a long-term solution for the Lebanese city's waste management dilemma, and residents are not pleased.

Lebanon's main landfill in Naameh had reached capacity, and was scheduled for closure on July 17. But the country's government failed to find a substitute, and as there was nowhere for it to go, garbage collection was halted. As of Friday, an emergency plan has reportedly allowed a company to move trash off the streets and gather it in Karantina.

Over the past days, sanitation workers had sprayed white powder on the estimated 22,000 pounds of trash that had accumulated in an effort to mitigate the stench and spread of pests.

Soon, Lebanon's residents started a social media campaign targeting government politicians with #YouStink and led protests near parliament to highlight the garbage crisis.

After postponing an initial decision, the government announced Monday night it had reached an agreement on measures working towards ending the crisis. This included garbage pickup, distribution, compensation to areas that receive the waste, and a promise to construct trash incinerators over the next month as a more long-term solution. But more confusion and disagreement resulted after it became unclear what decisions had been made by ministers. On Tuesday, activists began calling for the government to resign.

The waste crisis resulted in overflowing dumpsters mounds of trash lining the streets as many residents took to wearing masks to alleviate the overwhelming stench.

A Lebanese walks on piles of garbage left on a street in Beirut, Lebanon, July 23, 2015. EPA/WAEL HAMZEH

A Syrian refugee family walks past a pile of garbage on a street in Beirut, July 23, 2015. EPA/WAEL HAMZEH

A Lebanese citizen covers his face with a mask as he passes garbage piled on a street in Beirut, Lebanon. Wael Hamzeh/EPA

Lebanese activists chant anti-government slogans during a protest against the garbage crisis in front of the government palace. EPA/Wael Hamzeh

Some frustrated residents resorted to burning piles of garbages in Beirut, Lebanon, July 24, 2015. EPA/Nabil Mounzer

A member of the Lebanese fire services attempts to put out a blazing pile of garbage on a street in Beirut, Lebanon, July 24, 2015 EPA/Nabil Mounzer

Sukleen company workers remove the garbage from the streets of Beirut, Lebanon, July 26, 2015. EPA/Wael Hamzeh

Lebanese activists hold placards as they protest against the garbage crisis in front of the government palace. EPA/Nabil Mounzer.

Related: Watch the Vice News documentary on Lebanon's fight against ISIS here.