SIDON, Lebanon: A Lebanese family is awaiting the arrival of the body of one of their own who was killed in the Ivory Coast Sunday. Forty-nine-year-old Mashhour Joumaa was found dead in his office in Abidjan, the country’s largest city and an economic hub.
According to local media, preliminary investigations showed that Joumaa was beaten by an armed gang using sharp objects, resulting in his death.
The family said Joumaa, a businessman in the jewelry industry, had been living in the Ivory Coast for 25 years.
Joumaa’s family, which includes seven sisters and a brother, learned of his death Sunday.
They said Joumaa became the family’s primary breadwinner when their father died in 1984, spurring his decision to leave Lebanon.
“Why did they kill my brother? They murdered him without mercy. He was our breadwinner, and was kind and generous to everyone,” Joumaa’s sister Arza told The Daily Star. “It is the responsibility of the Lebanese state to reveal who killed him, in cooperation with the Abidjan authorities.”
Mohammad Joumaa, a cousin, said Joumaa’s son was the first to learn about the death, after his father told him he was going to the office but then didn’t answer his calls.
“Unfortunately, the Foreign Ministry is meaningless,” Mohammad Joumaa said, claiming that politicians were abandoning their duties toward Lebanese expatriates who are forced to leave their country and seek a living elsewhere due to Lebanon’s grueling economic and political situation.
A source from the Foreign Ministry was unaware of Joumaa’s death. Speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press, the official said, “We are never late if we can liberate somebody who is kidnapped. But once there is a crime like this - I’m not sure how we could have prevented this.”
The West African countries of Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast host a large number of Lebanese expatriates, primarily from south Lebanon.
Murders and kidnappings of Lebanese expatriates are frequently reported there.
Just last Thursday, Lebanese man Ashraf Rida Shour was freed after being kidnapped in Abidjan earlier in the week. And in April, a Lebanese man was kidnapped in Nigeria and later freed.
Those released are the lucky ones, as kidnappings often lead to murders. In March a Lebanese national from Sidon was abducteed and killed by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria.
These incidents are not isolated to African countries. In April, a Lebanese man, his 5-year-old son and his Venezuelan wife were killed after a gang of thieves broke into their house in Venezuela.
“I hold the President [Michel Aoun] responsible. He is the father of Lebanese in Lebanon and abroad, for the Lebanese communities living on the African continent,” Mohammad Joumaa said.
He added that authorities were following up on the case. - Writing by Ghada Alsharif