Assistance after the explosion in Beirut

The explosion on 4 August 2020 in the port of Beirut has left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and is destroying livelihoods. It has hit a country which, in the middle of the Corona pandemic, was already on the brink of economic and social collapse. Caritas is on hand to support people.


On 4  August, shortly before 6 p.m. local time, a massive explosion shook the port of Beirut. More than 200 people lost their lives, and several thousand have been injured. The explosion left a trail of destruction in its wake. The blastwave destroyed the buildings in a one-kilometre radius or damaged them severely. Within several square kilometres, windows were broken and doors ripped from their frames. 300'000 people lost their homes, countless livelihoods are at stake.


Immediate emergency relief 

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 2020.

Shelter for families in need and learning opportunities for children

Caritas remains at the side of those affected, also during winter time. 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. 

The explosion destroyed or damaged 160 public and public schools. Together with the SDC, Caritas Switzerland is helping to ensure that children can continue to study. While the SDC is rebuilding schools, we are facilitating distance learning in 7 schools with local partner organisations Ana Aqra, Caritas Lebanon and Seenaryo, so children can be taught despite damaged schools. With homework support, teacher training, psychosocial support and cash payments to particularly affected and vulnerable families, we are also improving access to quality education at these schools - including for particularly vulnerable children.


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.


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.




* Beneficiary's name has been changed

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