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On 4 August, shortly before 6 p.m. local time, a massive explosion shook the port of Beirut. To date, 78 deaths have been confirmed, hundreds of people are missing, and several thousand have been injured. The blastwave destroyed the buildings in a one-kilometre radius or damaged them severely. It could be clearly felt in Caritas Switzerland’s office in the Hamra district, approximately three kilometres from the port. The building was lightly damaged.
Crisis upon crisis
The structurally weak country, which has accepted more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees since the start of the Syrian war, is on the brink of bankruptcy. The energies and resources of the poorest people in particular have long been used up, the economy and infrastructure of the small country are hopelessly overstretched. While hundreds of thousands of refugees are living in camps under catastrophic conditions, the local population is also becoming increasingly impoverished. It is estimated that one third of the Lebanese population and two thirds of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon live below the poverty line. This also threatens social cohesion. Internal tensions between refugees and the host community are rising. Lebanon is increasingly forgotten by the international donor community.
The health system, too, is struggling under the economic crisis. Hospitals cannot pay for medical staff and cannot replace obsolete medical equipment. Countless people have no or insufficient access to medical care. The corona crisis, which has hit Lebanon hard, has further aggravated the situation. On the eve of the explosion, Beirut was already in lockdown for the second time. The explosion in the capital – where the country’s major hospitals are located – damaged hospitals and killed medical staff.
The people of Lebanon need our support
Caritas Switzerland has been active in Lebanon since 2012 as part of its extensive support for the victims of the Syria crisis, currently with projects in the education sector and in poverty reducation. At the moment, we are in contact with our partner organisations in order to determine the most urgent needs of those affected by the explosion. The people of Lebanon need our support now more than ever.