Beirut, Lebanon, September 1, 2020 — One month since the explosion in Beirut on August 4, Matias Meier - Country Director for the International Rescue Committee in Lebanon - said:
Since the day of the explosion one month ago we’ve seen over a 220 per cent increase in the number of COVID cases in Lebanon, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Almost everyday, 500 to 600 new cases are being confirmed and there are multiple clusters which is making it even harder to slow the spread. This is on top of everything else that people have to contend with. The latest estimates are that 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. We are continuing to meet people every day who need support to get back on their feet. Repairs to property are still the number one priority at the moment, but once these are completed and people finally have time to stop and think, they are going to need a vast amount of support to help them come to terms with what has happened.
In the areas worst affected by the blast our child protection team are meeting children who still cannot sleep at night because they are too scared. They are worried there is going to be another explosion. They’re worried about losing relatives. And their families too are still trying to get their heads around the enormity of everything they’ve been through. Many of them need financial support, but they also need someone to talk to, to help them process what has happened. Even though it is now four weeks since the explosion, we are still meeting new people every day who need support. There are many areas of Beirut that remain at-risk and efforts must be redoubled to ensure that everyone - especially the most vulnerable - receives support and that no one falls through the cracks of this response. While addressing the immediate needs is critical, this is a new emergency compounding what was already a crisis, so donors and the international community should ensure a focus on providing long-term support as well.
The International Rescue Committee’s current response in Beirut
The International Rescue Committee is currently working with local partner organizations to provide immediate cash and protection assistance - including psychological first aid - to those impacted and displaced by the August 4th explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. We are prioritizing children, families and individuals who were residing in blast-affected areas; suffered high levels of property damage or destruction of immediate livelihoods; and individuals and families with limited resources to cope with the effects of the damage to property and wellbeing. This includes persons with disabilities (both new and pre-existing), older persons without support networks, female-headed households, and families who have suffered physical injuries and/or severe psychological distress.
About the International Rescue Committee in Lebanon
The IRC began working in Lebanon in 2012, supporting both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese communities. In 2019, the organization reached over 89,000 people through its work implementing education, economic recovery and development, and women’s and child protection programs in all regions of Lebanon. It also provides legal assistance and skills training, and across all programming it works to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.