Lebanon faces a humanitarian crisis following a devastating explosion in the capital. Here’s how you can help.

The devastating blast that ripped through Lebanon’s capital on 4 August, striking its port, killing at least 200, wounding thousands and leaving yet more homeless, was not only a horrific tragedy as it unfolded; it has also sparked on ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Even before the global pandemic hit, Lebanon was in already in turmoil. As the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, said, it is ‘a country already facing civil unrest, economic hardship, the coronavirus outbreak, and a heavy burden from the Syrian refugee crisis.’ Now that its port – a vital lifeline for trade and imports – has been hit, vessels will be diverted to Tripoli. But to contextualise, while the port at Beirut can accommodate ten ships at a time, Tripoli’s much smaller capacity is for just one and a half. Add this to its existing economic problems, and the shortfall could spell a chronic lack of food and supplies for Lebanon’s already grieving and traumatised population.

It is, then, vital, that countries around the world come together to lend their support, not by simply by offering platitudes but by giving practical and financial assistance. At the time of writing, Britain was poised to give a £5m aid package at the city’s time of need; meanwhile, specialist UN agencies are working together tirelessly to help get the capital back on its feet. But if you want to know what you can do, here are a few ways to help with donations on an individual level.



The Lebanese Red Cross


As the main provider of ambulance services in the city, the Lebanese Red Cross provides an invaluable service. It is extremely busy helping the critically wounded, as well as providing emergency shelter for more than a thousand residents. If you would like to support them and their vital work at this critical time, do please donate what you can here.

Impact Lebanon


In the immediate aftermath of the blast, Impact Lebanon set up a crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds safely and ensure that they are transferred into the right hands as quickly as possible. A non-profit organisation, its aim is to ‘bring the community together to pursue initiatives that deliver impact for Lebanon. Our process is to encourage the brainstorming of ideas; promote the sharing of knowledge, resources and expertise; and build strong teams to turn an idea into a successful initiative.’ In light of the disaster, its energies are currently being diverted into raising money for relief efforts, and at the time of writing, it had already hit £5,713,962 – 76 per cent of £7.5m target – which is being donated directly to organisations on the ground. If you’d like to donate, do so here.

UNICEF


UNICEF – the UN’s children’s fund – has estimated that some 100,000 children will now be left homeless or living without water or electricity. In an effort to alleviate that devastating situation, it is attempting to raise $8.25m. Spokesperson Marixie Mercado, speaking to a journalist in Geneva, laid the state of affairs out unambiguously, saying, ‘The needs are immediate, and they are huge.’

In addition to helping find homes for the homeless and meet their human needs, UNICEF is also working to replace the PPE that was lost in the blast against the backdrop of rising coronavirus infections, as well working to bring in vital medical supplies. Other efforts your money could help with include the distribution of water; reuniting children with their families; and providing psychosocial support. To help with these critical efforts, please donate here.

Baytna Baytak


Batyna Baytak, a social initiative launched by young Lebanese citizens, was originally founded to help secure free housing for healthcare workers at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19. However, it has now shifted its focus in the aftermath of the explosion, and its priority is currently on raising funds for the displaced people who have lost their homes as a result of the blast. This number is estimated at roughly 300,000. The initiative is working with Impact Lebnanon, and you can donate to its specific appeal here.

UN Human Rights Agency


In the aftermath of the devastation, the entire government has resigned and there have been violent clashes between angry protestors, venting their fury that some 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was allowed to be stored unsafely at Beirut’s port for six years. For many Lebanese citizens, it is demonstrative of the political elite’s wider corruption, neglect and ineptitude.

The UN’s Office of Human Rights is calling for accountability. OHCHR Spokesperson Rupert Colville said, ‘Victims' calls for accountability must be heard, including through undertaking an impartial, independent, thorough and transparent investigation into the explosion,’ and he called for ‘a swift international response and sustained engagement.’ To assist with the UN Human Rights Agency’s effort, you can donate here.

Oxfam


As with any catastrophe across the globe, Oxfam has people stationed on the ground in Beirut ready to help with emergency assistance, from providing food and water to protection. The charity is now calling for donations to help those most affected by the blast. You can help raise funds here.

Support People In Lebanon


This hugely useful list rounds up local organisations on the ground who really need international help and donations right now, along with links to their fundraisers. They include the Migrant Community Center, which supports domestic workers; the Al Naqab Center for Youth Activities, located in a refugee camp; and Sawa For Deveopment and Aid, which supports Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

By Nancy Alsop
August 2020

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