Beirut Emergency Appeal: Update
By Paul Anticoni
On 4th August 2020 a series of devastating explosions at the Beirut Port destroyed most of the facility and flattened surrounding neighbourhoods, damaging buildings up to 20 kilometres away and leaving at least 178 dead and more than 6,000 injured. The impact of the explosions heightens Lebanon’s already critical situation, as it faces a severe financial crisis on top of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, World Jewish Relief’s Beirut Emergency Appeal is providing urgent relief to those affected. We are supporting local Red Cross operations across the city to enable thousands to access healthcare, food and water provision, shelter and cash transfers.
As a result of the explosions, an estimated 200,000 people have had to find alternative accommodation as their homes are either permanently or temporarily uninhabitable. Whilst the majority of those displaced are being housed by family or friends, vulnerable populations such as older people, people with special needs, migrant workers and refugees require targeted support to find shelter, as their natural support networks are generally weaker.
Lebanon’s health infrastructure was already fragile before the disaster. However, due to the explosions three major hospitals have shut, and of 55 healthcare facilities assessed by the World Health Organisation, half have been deemed ‘non-functional’. Healthcare facilities and emergency shelters are overcrowded, with injured men, women and children sometimes being treated on pavements and in parking lots. Many of those unable to travel to facilities outside Beirut (particularly older people and those with special needs) are still waiting for healthcare assistance, and thousands remain in hospital for trauma and burn treatments. Meanwhile, overcrowding makes social distancing impossible and increases the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
World Jewish Relief launched its Beirut Emergency Appeal in the aftermath of the disaster. We are committed to enabling a targeted response to victims of the explosions through a local partner organisation which can guarantee such delivery without interference from government. We are pleased to be supporting local Red Cross operations throughout the city, providing assistance in partnership with the British Red Cross. Our response focuses on healthcare, food and water provision, shelter and cash transfers for those affected.
With so many healthcare facilities unable to function and already at full capacity, World Jewish Relief’s support will enable Red Cross teams to continue running medical and blood donation centres and to distribute medical supplies. We are assisting the Red Cross to provide primary healthcare assistance through four health centres and five mobile medical units, prioritising the elderly and those without access to the government’s healthcare scheme.
Our partners have already treated and transported over 3,700 people by ambulance. They have distributed over 3,500 units of blood, and much needed medical supplies and medicines. Our intention is to enable the Red Cross to extend their reach over the next three months. We also recognise that many of those affected are suffering from immense psychological trauma, and we are keen to ensure the Red Cross can also assist in this critical area.