Prayers for those affected by the Beirut explosions in August 2020.
Wednesday 3 February 2021
In the six months since the explosions that rocked Beirut – sending shockwaves across the city, killing over 200 people, and leaving more than 6,000 injured - Lebanon has faced a multi-faceted crisis: a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, rising prices and increasing levels of poverty. Yet, despite the challenges, the local community have come together to start rebuilding and healing.
In the months following the explosion, UK aid agency CAFOD worked alongside local Lebanese organisations to help begin the rebuilding projects.
This included working with local aid agency Caritas Lebanon to distribute over 150,000 hot meals and food packages to help families in need. Youth volunteers worked on a project to renovate nearly 700 houses and assessed the damage on over 1,000 more.
While women’s organisation Association Nadjeh distributed cash to over 3,000 households affected by the blast. One of the residents to receive support from this help was Nohad Al-Mir, a Secretary who lives Karantina, a neighbourhood in Beirut that was severely damaged by the blast. She said:
“In every other way, that Tuesday last August was unremarkable. Dusk was just settling over my neighbourhood and I had visited the store to get some household items.
“Suddenly, I heard the sound of a blast. The glass in the store began to shake. I ran away but I could not pass the road. So, I tried a different route, but debris from buildings blocked the way, and I was shocked at the blood that stained the pavements.
“When I finally arrived home, I found my house as it still stands today, in ruins. I'm now living in my brother's house with his family, but I come daily to check on my house. Association Najdeh provided me with financial assistance that will help me to buy a refrigerator and gas. The foundations of a new start, and for that, I am very glad.”
Another innovative project was a self-care hub, set up by local organisation House of Peace, which has an in-house psychologist to support aid workers who experienced trauma in the blast and during the subsequent emergency response efforts. This support helps them to effectively deal with trauma and develop strategies for continuing to work well in challenging circumstances.
Despite these successes, Lebanese residents continue to face many daily challenges.
Most recently on Thursday 14 January 2021, Lebanon went into a strict lockdown, with residents barred even from grocery shopping as the country battles to slow spiking coronavirus cases. This is expected to continue until at least next week.
Hombeline Dulière, CAFOD’s Emergency Programme Manager, who lives in Lebanon’s capital Beirut, said:
“The current situation in Lebanon is devastating. With the announcement that the country was going into full lockdown – with even essential food shops closing and a strict curfew in place – people were beginning to panic.
“These measures, that were meant to help, have only gone to exacerbate the already fragile situation. Currently, the country is going through a massive economic crisis with 1.7 million people living under the poverty line and some 22 per cent of the population is expected to fall into extreme poverty.
“The sanitary situation is deteriorating as people struggle to access the hygiene products they need, and the healthcare system is seriously strained as more and more people are infected. Many have no choice but to work to feed their families, but with the current lockdown, this seems an impossibility.”
Local organisation are committed to continuing work to support people in the coming months and years. You can find out more about their work: cafod.org.uk/Beirutcafod.org.uk/Beirut
Notes to Editors
For further information and interviews with spokespeople, please contact: Elouise Hobbs, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile: +44 (0)7954 077426, Or, CAFOD’s 24-hour media hotline on +44 (0)7919 301 429
CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and part of Caritas International. We reach out to people living in poverty with practical help, whatever their religion or culture. Help us build a world where no one is beyond reach of the love and care they need.