DUBAI: Lebanese influencers are coming together on social media to raise awareness about the forest fires blazing through parts of the country in recent days.
Influencers including Lana El-Sahely, half-Australian Jessica Kahawaty and Nathalie Fanj have all taken to Instagram to lament the lack of support for Lebanon’s Civil Defense, which has been battling to quell the flames since Monday.
On Monday night, fires ripped through the Chouf mountains and northern Metn in Mount Lebanon, reaching the forests of Zgharta in the north. Firefighters from the Civil Defense tried to put out flames, but people woke at 3 a.m. only to see them revived and spreading from one region to another due to strong winds. Consequently, civilians had to intervene to extinguish the fires themselves, as government forces were not able to reach all burning areas.
Thick smoke had been seen drifting over the outskirts of Beirut, the mountainous Chouf region to its southeast, and the southern city of Saida.
In the Chouf, an area famed for its forests, a volunteer firefighter lost his life trying to put out the flames, his family said.
El-Sahely took to Instagram with a sober post — an image with white text saying “My Lebanon” in both English and Arabic against a stark black background.
“What is happening today is a national and a natural disaster and (it) is my priority to address (it) as a Lebanese. A huge fire is raging through Chouf and it has already destroyed forest and agricultural land and houses and threatens more towns and our cedar reserve. My heart and prayers go out to Chouf, to our Lebanese mountains, to its residents and to every tree bird and flower. Please take a moment to pray for (the) safety of my Lebanon, land and citizens. I hope we wake up to better days soon,” she captioned the post.
For her part, Lebanese-Australian model Kahawaty shared a powerful image of trees ablaze with the words “Save Lebanon” superimposed over the flames.
“I just woke up in the US to the most chilling news in my beloved Lebanon. Fires are raging through this already fragile country destroying homes and killing families. The country is ill equipped to deal with the magnitude of such a disaster bringing the people and rescue teams to their knees. My heart aches and I feel numb going through all the photos and videos watching helplessly… My thoughts are with everyone affected. God help them,” Kahawaty posted.