Growing trash piles in the Lebanese capital spur protests and threats of resignation by the prime minister. Sean Carberry reports.
STORY: It's a problem only Oscar the Grouch would want. Festering piles of trash in Beirut are triggering health warnings and protests by residents furious at a paralyzed government. The closure of a major landfill south of Beirut has been scheduled for some time, but the government has yet to come up with an alternate plan. And, so the piles grow higher to the dismay of residents like Lama Bou Karroum who just returned after a few days out of the city. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE CITIZEN, LAMA BOU KARROUM, SAYING: "I came today and was really shocked, there is no place without rubbish. It is not called rubbish anymore, it is mountains. We now have something new in Lebanon called 'trash mountains,' aside from the smell." Lebanon's environment minister said the crisis is a result of political struggles in the country and procrastination by politicians. The prime minister is threatening to resign. Resident Amar says it's time for action. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE CITIZEN, AMAR, SAYING: "They should fix the situation because we will develop diseases, don't we have enough diseases around? I wish officials take a little more care of this subject." The trash crisis is damaging Beirut's reputation as a tourist destination says Egyptian, Mohammed Hassan. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) EGYPTIAN TOURIST IN BEIRUT, MOHAMMED HASSAN, SAYING: "The country is beautiful but what I am seeing from the overall situation and rubbish crisis is saddening, because the country is touristic, when one comes once and sees this current scene, he won't be coming back." Governance is notoriously poor in the small Mediterranean country, but it has deteriorated since the eruption of the war in neighboring Syria. The presidency has been vacant for more than a year, and the parliament elected in 2009 has extended its own term and postponed elections until 2017 on the grounds of instability.