Beirut: emergency relief and recovery

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The massive explosion that ripped Beirut apart in August 2020 created significant immediate and long-term humanitarian needs. We’re supporting Medair to deliver emergency assistance to those impacted and displaced by the disaster – in particular to meet their shelter and health needs – and to assist in the rehabilitation of damaged buildings and public facilities. Medair’s teams will also work to provide mental health support to the most vulnerable groups.

Duration
2020-2021
Focus area
Emergency Response
country
Lebanon
partner
Medair

Context

On 4 August 2020, a horrific explosion rocked the Port of Beirut with a force equal to a 3.5-magnitude earthquake. Homes collapsed, high rise buildings were reduced to hollow frames and the streets for miles around were strewn with rubble. The blasts resulted in massive human loss, with more than 190 people killed, 6,500 injured and around 300,000 left homeless. Three major hospitals and more than one-hundred schools and health dispensaries were severely damaged.

Beirut Port is expected to be inoperable or only partially functional for months, and this will have a significant impact on the availability of construction materials to rebuild what was destroyed, as well as on the country as a whole, with 85% of food being imported.

The explosion was a major blow to populations that were already struggling to survive multiple compounded crises: a refugee crisis of more than one million Syrians fleeing the war, an economic and financial collapse caused by extremely high indebtedness that precipitated a severe liquidity crisis, a deep-rooted socio-political crisis that led to the resignation of two governments in less than six months, and the global COVID-19 pandemic which has seen cases soaring in recent weeks.

Emergency response

A Swiss humanitarian NGO, Medair has been active in Lebanon since 2012, working primarily to provide shelter materials, household supplies, medical care and mental health support to the most vulnerable populations. Since early 2013, the organisation has led the Geographic Information System mapping of informal settlements across the country – often rural and hard-to-reach areas that have no official boundaries or addresses – providing a vital coordination tool for humanitarian actors to respond promptly.

After the devastating port explosion that ripped the city apart, Medair stepped up its relief work.

We’re supporting the organisation’s recovery efforts to ensure that essential shelter supplies and health care services reach those directly impacted by the explosion.

Over the next few months, building on its shelter expertise and in close coordination with the other humanitarian actors and the constantly evolving needs, Medair will rehabilitate damaged residential buildings and public facilities.

The explosions caused considerable trauma for thousands of people. Vulnerable populations, including women, children and the elderly, are among the most affected. Medair will also provide essential mental health support to those in need.

 

“I lived through more than 10 wars and conflicts, but I have never seen devastation like this. There are no places to go or hide. The street is our home. Now there is nothing.”

Wadeaa, who lives in a neighbourhood near the port of Beirut.