UNHCR supporting Lebanon’s relief and recovery efforts following the devastating Beirut explosion

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply struck by the death and destruction caused by the massive explosion that ripped through Beirut on 4 August 2020. Our heartfelt condolences go to the families who have lost their dear ones. Our thoughts are with those who were injured and those who […]

A man carries an injured child to safety following a massive blast in the port of Beirut, Lebanon. © Ritzau Scanpix

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply struck by the death and destruction caused by the massive explosion that ripped through Beirut on 4 August 2020.

Our heartfelt condolences go to the families who have lost their dear ones. Our thoughts are with those who were injured and those who lost their homes to the explosion. Amongst the victims are also refugees and several UN colleagues and family members.

“We stand in solidarity with Lebanon in these tragic and testing times and remain committed to support the people of Beirut and all those involved in the response as they try to recover the city, overcome their pain and immense losses”, said UNHCR Representative in Lebanon Mireille Girard.

UNHCR, sister UN agencies, and partner NGOs are working closely with the Lebanese people and the concerned authorities to assess the damages and identify the best ways to help.

Some of the areas severely affected by the powerful blast included neighborhoods that hosted refugees, and while we continue to assess the situation, we have received reports of several deaths and missing persons among the refugee community in Beirut. We are in the process of verifying and identifying the refugee victims so we can offer all the necessary support to their families.

Everyone has been affected in the areas around the blast, regardless of nationality and status, and the response efforts are aimed for all.  Our teams are principally focussed on Shelter, Health and Protection. To support as much as we can in the response to this massive emergency situation, UNHCR is working closely with the Lebanese Red Cross to establish temporary shelters to those who lost their homes as needed and support relocation efforts to others.

We are also making available our in-country stocks of shelter kits, plastic sheets, rub-halls, and tens of thousands of other core relief items including blankets and mattresses for immediate distribution and use. According to official estimations, more than 300,000 people’s homes have been completely or partially damaged during this explosion, displacing their inhabitants.  There is a massive need for shelters and UNHCR will be supporting efforts to meet these critical needs.

UNHCR’s ongoing health response for COVID-19 will also contribute to the current emergency. A first phase of expanding hospital bed and ICU capacity including with medical supplies and equipment, ventilators, and patient beds was completed last week, and a second phase is being expedited in light of the saturation of hospitals. This support will help decrease the pressure on the currently overwhelmed hospitals and allow more patients to be treated in due time. The expansions are available to all those in need.

Protection is another critical area of intervention in the current emergency response, and in particular mental health and psychosocial support. Accompaniment of the victims is being put in place. UNHCR’s reception centres across the country, including in Beirut, are open for emergency cases, with all COVID-19 related social distancing measures in place, and the national call centre as well as regional hotlines are fully manned to respond to requests for assistance.

Girard added: “This massive explosion and the severe impact it will have come on top of a severe economic crisis that had pushed many Lebanese and refugees deeper into poverty. A recent spike in COVID-19 cases only made matters worse. Lebanon and the Lebanese, and all those who were affected by this explosion need every support at such a critical period.”

UNHCR continues to call on the international community to stand by Lebanon, show solidarity and provide meaningful support to this generous country that has hosted so many refugees even during a very difficult period.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Omer El Naiem

Tel. +961 81 317 826

[email protected]

 

Dalal Harb

Tel. +961 70 113 107

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Lisa Abou Khaled

Tel. +961 71 880 070

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