Lebanon Emergency Appeal
Churches of Christ Overseas Aid is partnering with the Action by Churches Together Alliance (ACT Alliance) in raising support to provide immediate assistance to those most affected by the disaster. The support provided will be focussed on provideing shelter, food security, health care for those injured from the blasts, WASH, unconditional cash support, and rehabilitation of damaged schools. This will be managed and implemented through the members of the Action by Churches Together Alliance Lebanon Forum.
On August 4, 2020, at around 6pm, a warehouse at the Beirut Port, Lebanon, containing large quantities of ammonium nitrate exploded. After an initial explosion, a subsequent blast caused widespread damage, with reports of damage more than 20 km from the port area.
The explosions and ensuing fires reportedly released toxic materials in the environment. Hundreds of buildings, including grain silos storing around 85 percent of the country’s grain, and numerous residential places have been damaged or destroyed due to the blast, including many healthcare facilities and several major hospitals in Greater Beirut area.
Official governmental reports estimate that more than 135 people were killed and over 5,000 are injured, and more than 300,000 people left homeless in the Greater Beirut area. Beirut's governor estimated the damages costs ranging from $3-5 billion and calls for international aid to Lebanon.
Hospitals are overloaded with casualties and many patients have been treated on sidewalks and in parking lots, others have been referred to nearby health care centres/ hospitals in the nearby areas. While many ICUs are already reaching capacity with COVID-19 patients, this blast has caused extra tension on the already stretched health care system. On top of these, COVID-19 is straining the country’s health systems, and as of August 12, 2020 Lebanon has reported a total of 7,121 cases.
Lebanon is already struggling from the financial crisis, economic contractions, the USD devaluation and hosting large number of refugees. This explosion came to deepen the crises and put extra pressure on both the Lebanese population, the Lebanese government and the refugee’s communities.
People are in a desperate situation, with a lack of access to sufficient food, safe shelter and basic non-food items, basic health services and facilities, safe drinking water, as well as sanitation and hygiene infrastructure. The Lebanese economy is in deep recession and so there is a pressing need to provide immediate assistance to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are met.
ACT is responding to this need. Church agencies delivering aid and relief include the Lutheran World Relief, The Church of Sweden, and the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees of the Middle East Council of Churches. These bodies have staff on the ground, the capacity to provide the assistance that is needed and are working together.
The images used are sourced from the ACT Alliance Credit: Norwegian Church Aid (NCA)