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On 4 August, shortly before 6 p.m. local time, a massive explosion shook the port of Beirut. More than 175 people lost their lives, and several thousand have been injured.
The explosion is leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. 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. Within several square kilometres, windows were broken and doors ripped from their frames. 300'000 people lost their homes, countless livelihoods are at stake.
Emergency relief and shelter for families in need
Caritas Switzerland, active in Lebanon since 2012 as part of its support for the victims of the Syria crisis, is cooperating with its long-term partner organisation Caritas Lebanon to support people in their desperate situation. 15 teams visited those affected in their damaged homes. They supplied people with food parcels and helped with initial clearing up work. In the streets, Caritas offered hot meals to homeless people. In tents, it provided medical care for injured people and gave them medicines as well as hygiene kits. Caritas has reached 50,000 people with this emergency assistance by the end of August.
The livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people have been destroyed - just as winter is coming. Caritas Switzerland remains at the side of those affected. Particularly vulnerable families receive cash assistance to cover their daily expenses and to repair damage to their flats and houses themselves. Thus, they can continue to live in their houses and apartmants, protected from wind and weather. Furthermore, we also continue to provide psychological and psychosocial help. With the support of the SDC, Caritas Switzerland will also work to improve access to quality education.
With your donation, you enable us to provide support for even more affected people.
Zara* lost her home
Zara was extremely lucky that she wasn’t at home at the time of the explosion. Her family has lost everything it owned. Their house is not really habitable, but at the moment, the family has no choice: They continue to live amongst the ruins of their house. However, the building is in danger of collapsing and they are in urgent need of a new home. They are glad to have Caritas’ support. ‘Thank you so much for your solidarity’, says Zara.
Lauren, volunteer at Caritas Lebanon
‘We are working round the clock’, Lauren says. ‘Sometimes, I am in the food tent day and night to distribute food items.’ Lauren, who is willing to travel a considerable distance to get to work, is constantly worried about getting infected with Covid-19. ‘But the people have lost everything – they need our help: Food, medicines, a roof over their head.’
Crisis upon crisis for the people of Lebanon
Help is all the more urgent in that the energy and resources of the poorest people in Lebanon, in particular, have long been exhausted. 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 economy and infrastructure of the small country are hopelessly overstretched. An ever-growing number of people are losing their jobs and are sliding into poverty. 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. 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 more than ever.