My children aren’t able to forget the sound of the explosion, when they hear any sound or noise around us, immediately they remember what happened…even my little son is now having speech problems.
On 4 August 2020, a sudden explosion tore through the port of Beirut, Lebanon, with shock waves racing through densely populated areas. Over 200 people lost their lives, and more than 6,500 people were injured.
More than 750,000 people have been affected by this terrible disaster which has left families on the streets with no food, shelter or emergency medical care.
Homes and businesses have been flattened to the ground, windows shattered, and doors knocked down. An estimated 74,000 homes were damaged and 300,000 people were left homeless.
Across the city of Beirut, neighbourhoods were reduced to rubble by the blast, along with hospitals and crucial stores containing around 85% of the country’s grain and medical supplies.
The country sunk further into severe economic collapse, with half the population already facing starvation, unable to access basic goods including medicine. Thousands saw their livelihoods disappear.
This explosion made a most dire situation worse.
Christian Aid's response
Thanks to your support our local partners Basmeh & Zeitooneh, Mouvement Social and Association Najdeh have been responding. Together we have:
- distributed food, water, hygiene and disinfection materials to at least 5,000 people
- distributed clothes, mattresses, and blankets to at least 5,000 people
- distributed gloves and masks to at least 5,000 people to prevent the spread of coronavirus
- supported affected households to access medicine and health services
- mobilised volunteer groups in rubble removal in the most affected locations
- provided cash assistance of up to $300 (£230) to more than 6,500 households to enable them to buy essential items.
Six months on update
Lebanon’s poorest face spiralling economic and health crises. Coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise steeply, and lockdown measures exacerbate the longstanding economic crisis, hurting the poorest most.
Fadi Halisso is co-director of Christian Aid partner Basmeh & Zeitooneh, founded in 2012 to serve Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which now finds itself helping Lebanese citizens as well as Syrian refugees. He explains:
We are overwhelmed...recently we’ve received requests from an average of 10,000 families a month, for food and basic hygiene items. Before, it was rare to find Lebanese families asking for help with such basic needs. Now, even households who were managing before are hurting.
- Fadi Halisso, Co-director, Basmeh & Zeitooneh. .
Majid, originally from Syria, came to Beirut with his family 10 years ago as refugees. His home was damaged in the explosion – the doors and windows of his building blew in, injuring his wife.
Though six months have passed, the emotional scars from that day remain.
He received cash support from Christian Aid’s partner Association Najdeh in Beirut, thanks to your generous donations and funding from the Scottish Government’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund, which allowed him to buy essential food and helped pay his rent.
Christian Aid’s Lebanon Crisis Appeal and the Scottish government funding enabled Association Najdeh to provide emergency cash assistance to 708 vulnerable households directly affected by the explosion, mostly Palestinian and Syrian refugee families who do not receive any support from the Lebanese government.
But Majid's children are still traumatised:
Let us pray
God, our refuge in times of trouble
we pray for our brothers and sisters in Beirut today.
Lord, be with the emergency services as they battle to help the thousands injured.
Lord, hold those who have lost loved ones in the palm of your hand.
Lord, we pray your provision for poor and marginalised communities who face an even more uncertain future.
Lord, we pray for wisdom for leaders as they make difficult decisions.
Lord, open our hearts - may they be full of compassion for the suffering we see.
Stir us to action.
In the tragedy of loss,
we pray your comfort.
In the chaos and injury,
we pray your calm and divine healing.
In the devastation and the heartbreak,
we pray your peace.
We pray that in the despair that lies amid the rubble of the explosion
there will be glimmers of hope and life.