Lebanon + 1 more

Beirut blast six months on: Thousands still homeless with poverty on the rise

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Six months since the Beirut explosion, thousands of families face a new wave of homelessness because of rising poverty, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned today.

While the majority of around 200,000 residences damaged or destroyed on 4 August 2020 have been repaired, a staggering number of families find themselves facing unprecedented poverty that is leading to a rise in evictions and homelessness. An estimated 70,000 workers have lost their jobs because of the explosion.

Even before the explosion, Lebanon was facing political paralysis, a crippling economic crisis and an aggressive Covid-19 outbreak that put the country under immense pressure.

The worst-affected victims of the explosion already lived in the poorest areas of Beirut. NRC surveys in affected neighbourhoods showed that around a third of respondents reported having lost their family income because of the blast.

Among families affected by the explosion, 42 per cent who had chronic medical conditions reported that they could not continue their treatment, largely because they no longer afforded it.

Of all affected groups NRC assessed, Syrian refugees report the highest incidents of violence, abuse, and harassment from landlords and because of tensions in the community. "Thousands of homes have been repaired thanks to huge investment and work by the people affected and the international community, but the stark reality is that the most vulnerable are still displaced," said NRC's Lebanon Country Director Carlo Gherardi. "They are increasingly jobless, unable to pay rent, incurring huge debts and evermore dependent on aid. Tens of thousands are still unable to secure a new home or return to where they used to live. It is now imperative to look beyond the structural damage and help the people in Beirut stand on their feet again. Lebanon needs wide-ranging governance reforms and long-term international support to ensure job creation, service provision and social protection. The doors to people's homes may have been repaired, but the damage to the lives behind those doors remains."

Notes to editors:

  • Around 9,000 residences, of the 200,000 damaged or destroyed by the explosion, still need repairing or rebuilding.

  • NRC's Multi-Sector Needs Assessment was based on 992 interviews with residents from Karantina, Mar Mkhayel, Gemmayzeh, Bourj Hammoud, and Achrafieh. It was carried out over several months after the explosion.

  • NRC has repaired the houses of around 1,600 families and assisted around 600 additional families with rental support for up to six months. By March, around 15,000 individuals will have received support with shelter, water and sanitation, education and legal services.

  • NRC has spokespeople in Beirut and in the region available for interviews.

  • B-roll with NRC's Lebanon Country Director Carlo Gherardi speaking to camera can be found in the link for free use and distribution.

For more information, please contact:

Amman Karl Schembri, Regional Media Adviser karl.schembri@nrc.no +962 7902 20159

Oslo NRC media desk media@nrc.no +47 905 62329