Beirut Blast: Help Where It Is Most Needed
September 21, 2020 | Joyce Ibrahim
Years of criminal negligence and decades of systemic corruption detonated on August 4th in the form of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the Port of Beirut. 190 lives were lost, more than 6500 people were injured, while 300,000 were left homeless following what is considered as one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions in history.
Lebanon, which had been struggling with severe financial and economic crises, COVID19, recurrent electricity shortages and constant protests, witnessed its capital’s homes, businesses and hospitals reduced to rubble in a matter of seconds. Destruction in Beirut reached a 10km radius from ground zero, causing over $15 billion in damages, a painful figure in a collapsed economy.
No sooner had the citizens processed the disaster’s initial shock than they began to mobilize to provide relief. In the absence of meaningful government contribution, individuals and NGOs rushed to devastated areas to offer any and all needed support. The country’s youth could be found in the streets, brooms in hand, cleaning debris, collecting glass for recycling, and helping those most affected by the blast recover their belongings. Organizations set up tents in any empty space they could find, transforming parking lots into makeshift medical centers and pick-up spots for donations.
Although the immediate future seems bleak for Lebanon with citizens emigrating by the thousands, the Lebanese’s immense grassroot efforts and sense of community are spreading hope for the country’s recovery.
Here are some Lebanese relief initiatives that need your help to make a greater impact.
Lebanese Red Cross
The Lebanese Red Cross is an independent organization delivering disaster prevention and relief. It is the country’s key provider of ambulance services, and its operations rely mainly on volunteers and its services are provided for free. Following the blast, the Lebanese Red Cross found itself stretched beyond its capacity.
You can donate to the Lebanese Red Cross here.
Children’s Cancer Center
The Children’s Cancer Center provides free cancer treatment and psychosocial support to children all over the country and their families. Following the blast, the Center sustained heavy damages and medical supplies stored at the Port were destroyed, leaving the country’s youngest patients at risk.
You can donate to the Children Cancer Center Lebanon here.
Lebanese Food Bank
Around 80% of Lebanon’s food is imported, mainly through the Port destroyed by the blast. The grain silos, containing 85% of the country’s grain supply, were destroyed, leaving citizens in further food insecurity.
The Lebanese had already been suffering an 80% increase in food prices before the blast, as the World Bank estimated that 49% of Lebanese “were worried about access to food”.
The Lebanese Food Bank manages food distribution and collection programs, you can donate here.
Impact Lebanon is currently raising money to house people who lost their homes in the blast, and are running a general emergency relief fund. The funds Impact gathers are directly transferred to vetted and certified NGOs to ensure that the aid is received where it is needed.
You can donate to Impact Lebanon here.
The series of hardships Lebanon has been facing, along with the horrific explosion on August 4th have profoundly affected citizens’ mental health. Embrace is a non-profit organization raising awareness around mental health in Lebanon, and running an emotional support and suicide prevention helpline. Embrace is launching a free mental health clinic to treat trauma and grief.
You can donate to Embrace here.