Beirut explosions: How you can help
3 September 2020
On the evening of Tuesday 4 August, two explosions at the port of Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut sent an enormous shockwave across the city killing over 200 people and leaving more than 4,000 injured.
Rescue workers are still searching for many more missing people and parts of Beirut are now uninhabitable.
Thousands of families were affected by the explosion. Many of them have slept in shattered homes or temporary accommodation, while also facing the deadly threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
"This explosion threatens to push many who were already suffering further into poverty and hunger."
Christine Allen, CAFOD Director
At least 300,000 homes have been damaged, and many are no longer habitable, said the Beirut governor, Marwan Abboud. The UN has estimated that the total damages could reach 3-5 billion USD.
Christine Allen, CAFOD’s Director, said:
“CAFOD expresses its deepest sympathies and prayers to the families of the victims, as well as to the people Lebanon, following the horrific explosions in Beirut.
“Local Lebanese organisations, that CAFOD works alongside, have told us of the widespread destruction that has swept the city. And, how their volunteers are already on the frontlines: assisting in hospitals and helping the injured.
“This disaster has happened at a challenging time for Lebanon, as they deal with the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s economic turmoil. This explosion threatens to push many who were already suffering further into poverty and hunger.
“CAFOD remains committed to supporting Lebanon at this difficult time.”
Please join us in praying for all those affected by these horrific explosions.
How is CAFOD responding to the explosions?
Our network of local experts and volunteers are on the ground now:
- Giving out hot meals and emergency food to 17,000 people, hygiene kits to 3,000 households, and medical services to 5,000 people.
- Providing psychological first aid directly to 1,000 people.
- Removing rubble from the streets and helping families to clean and shore up their homes as far as possible.
They are giving this practical help to the most vulnerable families, including the elderly and those who've been left injured or jobless by the explosion.
Yasmin Kayali, co-founder of CAFOD's partner in Lebanon, Basmeh and Zeitooneh, said:
"The last 25 days have gone by in a blur. It has been one of the most challenging times for us in our work.
"Since day one after the explosion, we and all our staff and the amazing volunteers that have joined us have been on the ground responding to people's initial needs - food, hot meals, removal of debris, emergency medical referrals - but over the past couple of weeks, this response has evolved.
"Now we are targeting the rehabilitation of homes and businesses, along with giving legal aid to refugee victims. We are also giving relief aid made up of food baskets, hygiene baskets and money to as many of the affected families as we can cover, making sure we leave no one behind and especially targeting the elderly, those who have lost heads of household, migrant workers and refugees.
"The road to recovery is very long and we must be very strategic in the way we get and use funding in order to make sure that we deliver the most widespread benefit. And in all this, it is very important to coordinate with others on the ground to avoid duplication and to also benefit from each other’s expertise."
What is the situation in Lebanon?
This disaster has only added to an existing political and economic crisis, putting further stress on people as they struggle to cope in their daily lives.
Nearly 2,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Lebanon, but due to a lack of testing this number could be much higher.
Hospitals and doctors were already reporting shortages of vital medical supplies and PPE before the explosion. Many were turning away non-critical cases to conserve resources. They are now under even greater strain.
Lebanon’s economy is in freefall. Many are surviving by eating less food while sinking further into debt. The availability of food in the country is at high risk and this explosion will have long-lasting impacts on Lebanon’s precarious food security.
"Beirut is devastated and we are totally overwhelmed by the scale of the events."
Father Michel Abboud, President of Caritas Lebanon
CAFOD’s work in Lebanon
Through CAFOD’s extensive community network, we are well-placed to provide aid in some of the worst-hit and most inaccessible areas.
Local organisation Caritas Lebanon has a network of youth volunteers and staff who are already actively assisting in response to the huge explosion. They are on site, volunteering at hospitals and assisting the injured.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, our local experts have been continuing to provide food, shelter, water, and medical supplies to thousands of refugees in Lebanon and their host communities.
We have also adapted our work so that we continue to safely provide training, education, support to female-led co-operatives, and work to promote social cohesion and greater understanding among communities.