The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is responding in the aftermath of the massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon on August 4 that killed at least 180 people and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes. We are working with local partners and providing immediate cash and economic assistance to displaced families.
Editor's Note, Sep 12, 2020: This story is no longer being updated. Visit our Lebanon country page for more information.
The IRC is concerned that the needs of the most vulnerable, including refugees from Syria and migrant workers, will go unmet as the city struggles to recover from the impact of the explosion, even as it faces a COVID-19 crisis.
Read the latest from IRC country director Matias Meier and the IRC team in Lebanon on our response to the blast, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country, and how to help:
Sep 11, 2020
The children impacted by the blast will need substantial emotional and psychological support to come to terms with the disaster. They are anxious, stressed and having nightmares. Many are showing additional signs of distress, such as fear, anger, aggression and restlessness.
“My 8yr/old daughter waits until the morning to sleep. She wants to take care of us at night: ‘Mom, I can’t sleep at night. I want to take care of you all.’”@RESCUEorg's Child Protection teams provide recreational & psychosocial support to children affected by the #BeirutBlast pic.twitter.com/7nJUGj3eky— Matias Meier (@meier_matias) September 11, 2020
Sep 10, 2020
A fire broke out at the site of the explosion. Firefighters are on the scene and the IRC is monitoring the situation.
Our thoughts are with everyone in #Beirut as a fire blazes at the port where last month's explosion happened. Firefighters are on the scene. We are closely monitoring the situation and will provide additional support to those affected, as needed.— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) September 10, 2020
Sep 9, 2020
Sep 2, 2020
The @RESCUEorg emergency team continued receiving referrals of vulnerable #BeirutBlast-affected individuals: over 200 families visited & 40 received emergency cash assistance last week - those assisted include older persons & those with pre-existing chronic medical conditions. pic.twitter.com/q3ACYZLq6E— Matias Meier (@meier_matias) September 2, 2020
Sep 1, 2020
Since the August 4 explosion in Beirut, we’ve seen over a 220 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Lebanon, and it is showing no signs of slowing down.
At least 40,000 buildings were damaged, including 15,000 businesses. This means that for many people, they lost both their home and their source of income in an instant.
Many areas of Beirut remain at-risk, and efforts must be redoubled to ensure that no one—especially the most vulnerable—falls through the cracks of this response.
Aug 27, 2020
According to UNICEF, half of children affected by the blast are displaying signs of trauma.
The IRC's child protection tent in Karantina—one of the areas most affected by the explosion—has been providing a safe space for children to play and receive psychosocial support from dedicated case workers deployed from our other programs in Lebanon.
Our @RESCUEorg #Lebanon Child Protection teams are providing recreational and psychosocial support to help children deal with the trauma and distress they were exposed to during the #BeirutExplosion. pic.twitter.com/2HZbdoPGg8— Matias Meier (@meier_matias) August 27, 2020
"This is a program that aims at identifying those most vulnerable and giving them emergency cash so that they can decide what is most useful for them," says IRC country director Matias Meier of the cash relief the IRC is providing to people affected by the explosion.
The #Beirut explosion is just another calamity that Lebanon is facing—including #COVID19 & an already struggling economy.— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) August 27, 2020
For instance, IRC's @meier_matias, shares that 30,000 people have partially or completely lost their homes. More in @businessinsider:https://t.co/QeaMfWtsah
Lebanon has experienced an 180% increase in #COVID19 cases since the #Beirut explosion, with a new record being hit most days.— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) August 27, 2020
Read the IRC’s recent analysis on the situation in @Telegraph: https://t.co/oPtyNm3dPM
Aug 25, 2020
Many business owners in #Beirut lost their only source of income due to the #BeirutBlast.— Matias Meier (@meier_matias) August 25, 2020
In the aftermath of the #BeirutExplosion, @RESCUEorg’s emergency team supports them with cash assistance & grants to overcome some of their losses - we've assisted 10 businesses last week! pic.twitter.com/PmCwV5B4DE
Aug 24, 2020
Bassem & Tarek struggle w/ constant feelings of fear & cannot sleep.— Matias Meier (@meier_matias) August 24, 2020
The #BeirutExplosion threw their parents 5 meters across the room & they hit the wall. Their apartment is destroyed.@RESCUEorg’s Child Protection team is providing the family w/ cash & psychosocial support. pic.twitter.com/iQVslJfhmr
Aug 21, 2020
More than two weeks after the explosion, the full extent of the damage is not yet known. Approximately 180 people are reported dead and over 7,000 wounded. The death toll could still increase, but all search and rescue efforts are now suspended.
Since the explosion, Lebanon has seen a record-breaking number of cases and deaths related to the COVID-19 outbreak, with the current number of cases surpassing 400 per day.
- The IRC is collaborating with local partners to provide emergency cash assistance to families affected by the blast.
- We are also providing cash assistance and business grants to businesses that experienced damage.
- We are providing psychological first aid and specialized psychosocial support for women and girls impacted by the disaster.
- The IRC will also provide psychosocial support for children and adolescents.
- Our women's protection rapid response team is working with women and girls, as well as local responders, to identity safety risks and assess needs. A dedicated helpline is available 24/7 to ensure that women who have survived sexual violence and abuse, which tend to spike during crises, can receive emergency support.
Aug 20, 2020
During the aftermath of the #BeirutExplosion, @RESCUEorg’s Emergency Response Team is present & in action in #Beirut, #Lebanon, to help all those most affected by the #BeirutBlast. pic.twitter.com/V4tiAh20kP— Matias Meier (@meier_matias) August 20, 2020
‘Ppl still can’t afford food. Ppl are still out of work: 70k more have now reportedly been left unemployed. For #Lebanon to have a chance @ getting back on its feet, we need to stop the coronavirus from spreading any further’ https://t.co/wR4wruWZF0 Via @Independent @RESCUEorg— Matias Meier (@meier_matias) August 20, 2020
Aug 19, 2020
“There are children who cannot process what happened and why this happened,” Rebecca Mouwad, Senior Child Protection Officer of the @RESCUEorg #Lebanon team.#WorldHumanitarianDay.#BeirutBlast.#BeirutExplosion.https://t.co/7aJBrU6r9N pic.twitter.com/HOMtGl5jJt— Matias Meier (@meier_matias) August 19, 2020
Today, the @RESCUEorg Economic Recovery & Development #Lebanon team carried out rapid assessments of small businesses in the areas most impacted by the #BeirutBlast – we will support them with cash to reopen once again, in coordination with partners to ensure complementarity. pic.twitter.com/hCGQcERNNK— Matias Meier (@meier_matias) August 18, 2020
"The clean-up operation is vast, the hospitals that remain open are almost full and those that can still operate are in desperate need of more equipment” IRC country director Matias Meier in The Telegraph.
Following the #BeirutExplosion, cases of #COVID19 have surged.— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) August 18, 2020
"The clean-up operation is vast, the hospitals that remain open are almost full & those that can still operate are in desperate need of more equipment” says IRC's @meier_matias in @Telegraph: https://t.co/GUFugVm9cn
Aug 17, 2020
The @RESCUEorg #Lebanon team continues its work to support people affected by the #BeirutExplosion –we’re prioritizing children, families & individuals who suffered high levels of property damage or destruction & who have limited resources. pic.twitter.com/MUT454dLkf— Matias Meier (@meier_matias) August 17, 2020
Aug 16, 2020
What do people need after the explosion in #Beirut ?— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) August 17, 2020
Families need shelter
Children need help to cope with loss
Women need protection from violence
Health facilities need support
People need support to buy food
Find out how you can help: https://t.co/Vq1eL1YaiC
Aug 14, 2020
An estimated 150,000 women and girls have been displaced as a result of the explosion.
As Lebanon faces a dire economic crisis, IRC analysis suggests that 30,000 women were already unemployed—and that countless more have now lost their jobs. It is expected that these compounding crises will leave women even more vulnerable at this desperate time, with many becoming increasingly reliant on negative coping strategies such as skipping meals and incurring debt. Read our latest statement.
Aug 13, 2020
In addition to the catastrophic events of recent days, the Lebanese people have been faced with an economic collapse and increasing scarcity of food, as the country confronts a global pandemic. We've posted a new explainer that looks at six things people in Beirut need right now.
Aug 12, 2020
Reports indicate that 300,000 people have been displaced from their homes—one third of them children—and close to 6,000 people injured.
Already, we are providing support through our local partner organisations who were among the first to respond to this disaster. The IRC has been heartened by the natural resilience and solidarity of people in Lebanon to overcome this crisis, but—with the needs being so vast—we are concerned that those of the most vulnerable (Lebanese, migrant workers and refugees alike) will go unmet as the city struggles to recover from the impact of the blast.
"The needs are rising by the day in Beirut and we are now experiencing a local displacement crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people unable to go home," says Elias El Beam, IRC communications manager in Lebanon. Read his first-hand account of the explosion and his work as a volunteer helping to clear debris from damaged homes.
"A week later, you can still feel the heavy, negative energy of the city. You can see the emotional impact of the explosion in every face. But you can also see hope."— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) August 12, 2020
Elias El Beam, who works for the IRC in Lebanon, shares his account of the #BeirutBlast: https://t.co/QkqXDXSXuu
Aug 10, 2020
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⚠️ Please share critical information on the #BeirutExplosion: The situation, IRC’s emergency response, and how you can help. ⚠️ We’re concerned that the needs of the most vulnerable, including refugees, will go unmet. Lebanon’s economy has been in freefall for months, and an already overwhelmed health system is now being stretched to breaking point. The IRC is there providing immediate cash and economic assistance. Please share this to help raise awareness, and donate now at the link in our bio.
Aug 9, 2020
In reaction to today’s donor summit on Lebanon, IRC acting country director Mohammad Nasser said:
We welcome the support of the international community, but more is required to ensure this is not only a quick-fix to patch up the broken buildings in the city. Before the blast, the economy was already in freefall, inflation was on the rise and COVID-19 had drained the health sector.
Across Beirut, and the country as a whole, everyone was already suffering – vulnerable Lebanese and refugees alike.
Across Beirut, and the country as a whole, everyone was already suffering—vulnerable Lebanese and refugees alike. People were struggling to pay their rent and to buy food to feed their families. Now, the situation is even worse. The explosion has exacerbated every existing need. The people of Lebanon need a long-term commitment from the international community to help not just Beirut, but the entire country, get back on its feet.
We stand with #Lebanon after last week’s massive explosion in #Beirut.— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) August 10, 2020
A message from IRC's @DMiliband, on our emergency response, the challenges Syrian refugees in the country are facing & the need for action from the global community.
How you can help: https://t.co/Bzdd3HLjAf pic.twitter.com/VE4xVnVsUQ
Aug 7, 2020
In a new video, IRC president and CEO David Miliband speaks about the IRC’s emergency response in Lebanon after the Beirut explosion, the challenges Syrian refugees in the country are facing, and the need for action from the global community.
In addition to the catastrophic events of recent days, the Lebanese people have been faced with an economic collapse and increasing scarcity of food, as the country confronts a global pandemic. In a recent survey, the IRC found that 87 percent of households we spoke to said that lack of food was a critical concern for them—and this figure jumped to 97 percent for those with a family member who has a disability. Most have been completely cut off from their sources of income.
Miliband also spoke with Sky News today about our work in Lebanon:
Aug 6, 2020
The IRC is launching an emergency response to provide immediate cash and economic assistance to those impacted and displaced by Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut.
Your gift can help us aid displaced families in Lebanon and support our work in more than 40 countries worldwide. Donate now.
“This latest crisis will only further deepen the suffering of people that have already been pushed to the brink,” says Mohammad Nasser, the IRC's acting country director in Lebanon, where the IRC provides support to Syrian refugees and the resource-strapped Lebanese communities hosting them.
This latest crisis will only further deepen the suffering of people that have already been pushed to the brink.
“The economy has been in freefall for months and everyone in Lebanon—Lebanese and refugees alike—has been struggling. Reports indicate that this blast has displaced 300,000 people from their homes, and an already overwhelmed health system is now being stretched to breaking point.”
BREAKING: We're launching an emergency response to provide immediate cash and economic assistance to those impacted and displaced by the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. We're concerned the needs of the most vulnerable, including refugees, will go unmet: https://t.co/0mXlP4XD7B— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) August 6, 2020
Read more from acting IRC country director Mohammad Nasser in our Aug. 6 statement:
"We have been heartened by the natural resilience and solidarity of the Lebanese to overcome this crisis, and we are launching a response to provide cash to those impacted to help them get back on their feet and begin to rebuild. In addition to the catastrophic events of recent days, the Lebanese people have been faced with an economic collapse and increasing scarcity of food, as the country confronts a global pandemic. The IRC’s support will help them meet their immediate needs in the aftermath of this terrible incident.”
Aug 5, 2020
The IRC is monitoring the humanitarian impact of the explosion and working to help affected staff in Beirut.
While we continue to work to help affected IRC Lebanon staff and ensure the safety of our colleagues, we are monitoring the humanitarian impact of the explosion. https://t.co/4z6HP4qi8P— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) August 5, 2020
Inside the IRC’s work in Lebanon:
The IRC began working in Lebanon in 2012, supporting both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese communities. We now implement education, economic recovery and development, and women’s and child protection programs in all regions of the country. We also provide legal assistance and skills training, and work to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. Learn more on our Lebanon country page.
Aug 4, 2020
On Tuesday, August 4, a massive explosion, the equivalent of a 3.3 magnitude earthquake, erupted in Beirut, Lebanon. More than 50 people have been killed and over 2,000 injured in the blast. Homes have been destroyed, with ceilings collapsed and glass blown out of buildings.
Lebanon was already facing economic collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic—IRC president David Miliband talked to BBC Newsnight about the crises gripping Lebanon even before the explosion:
"It’s a country that desperately needs international support… there’s obviously grave concern that a country that was on the edge... is now really in danger of tipping into a terrible crater.”— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) August 4, 2020
- David Miliband, President & CEO of the International Rescue Committee#Newsnight pic.twitter.com/97AmMTaaHD
The IRC has been working in Lebanon since 2012 assising refugees from Syria and vulnerable Lebanese communities. Our support will help people meet their immediate needs in the aftermath of this terrible incident and get back on their feet.