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Crisis in Lebanon

IRC responds to Beirut explosion: live updates

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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. 

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. 

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. 

Sep 9, 2020

Sep 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. 

Read more from IRC country director Matias Meier.

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. 

"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.

Aug 25, 2020

Aug 24, 2020

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. 

Our response:

  • 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

Aug 19, 2020

Aug18, 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.

Aug 17, 2020

 

Aug 16, 2020

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.

Aug 10, 2020

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.

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.

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BREAKING: We're launching an emergency response to provide immediate cash and economic assistance to those impacted and displaced by Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. ⁠ ⁠ We're concerned the needs of the most vulnerable, including refugees, will go unmet as the city struggles to recover from the impact of the explosion, as well as facing a coronavirus crisis. That's why we are launching a response to provide cash to those impacted to help them get back on their feet and begin to rebuild.⁠ ⁠ This latest crisis will only further deepen the suffering of people that have already been pushed to the brink. 300,000 people have reportedly been displaced from their homes as a result of the blast, and an already overwhelmed health system is now being stretched to breaking point. The country was already compounded by major economic needs. ⁠ ⁠ We're proud to have worked in Lebanon since 2012, supporting both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese communities.⁠ ⁠ Today and every day, we stand with the people of Lebanon. Please share this post if you do too - and visit Rescue.org (link in bio) for how you can help.

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“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.”

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.

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.

An IRC aid worker wearing a mask provides emergecy cash assistance to a woman in Bekaa, Lebanon.

The IRC distributes emergency cash assistance to vulnerable refugees and people in need in Lebanon. (North Bekaa, June 2020)

Photo: IRC

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.

A 2016 aeriel view of the city of Beirut and its port

The IRC provides emergency and long-term services for Syrians and the struggling Lebanese communities hosting them. (Beirut, May 2016)

Photo: Jacob Russell/IRC

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:

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.