On 4 August, a large explosion occurred in the port of Beirut which left at least 190 people dead, more than 6,000 people injured and damaged over 77,000 apartments, affecting around 300,000 people. It also caused significant protection needs for many vulnerable Lebanese, refugees and migrant workers who were already struggling due the economic crisis and the impact of COVID-19. These needs relate to Child Protection, issues of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS), legal assistance, and specializes support for people with disabilities.
Needs and Response
Community outreach has been a key component of the protection response. For the last two months Protection actors provided more than 23 000 people affected by the blast with information on their rights, and linked individuals with urgently needed services. They also helped beneficiaries recognize needs that they or their loved ones might have, for example related to MHPSS or legal assistance. This outreach was particularly important for Lebanese, who are less familiar with the humanitarian system, and migrant workers, many of whom lost their work and sometimes their homes, becoming suddenly vulnerable as result.
MHPSS related interventions constituted another key component of the response. Needs are great and likely to remain, even with the extensive support offered. Parents report their children expressing fear and experiencing nightmares, anxiety, interrupted sleep and flashbacks since the explosions. Children and caregivers could access tailored MHPSS care through community-based initiatives in newly established safe play spaces in tents and community centres. Group and individual-focused MHPSS interventions for different age groups have been implemented throughout the affected areas, starting with Psychological First Aid and increasingly shifting toward more specialized PSS, reaching particularly women and girls.
The risk of SGBV, especially for women and girls, has also increased due to the explosion. Compromised shelter arrangements aggravate pre-existing threats of violence and exploitation, which were already heightened by COVID-19 related restrictions of movement and the deterioration of the economic situation. GBV partners have scaled up their initiatives to mitigate the risks in the affected areas including through outreach and consultations with women and girls about their safety and well-being. UNFPA and partners have distributed 8,300 Dignity Kits while providing information on available services and referrals to specialized services for individuals in need of assistance.
Protection Emergency Cash Assistance (ECA) was identified as a response component from the beginning been but due to technical considerations and limited funding, it took several weeks to scale up. Most partners however do have mechanisms in place and are planning to complete much of ECA-related the activities by late October.
Interventions such as ECA constitute a protection response in itself and can also mitigate or prevent rights violations.
ABAAD, ADRA, Amel Association, Borderless NGO, CARE, Caritas, CLDH, Concern Worldwide, DRA, DRC, For the Art, Helem, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, INTERSOS, IOM, JRS Lebanon, Leb Relief, LECORVAW, Makhzoumi, Nabad, NCA, OXFAM, Restart Center For The Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture, Right to Play, Save the Children International, Tabitha for Relief and Development, TdH-L, UNICEF, URDA, UN Women, UNFPA, War Child Holland,
World Vision International