Finland will support the operation of the Red Cross’s international committee (ICRC) in Lebanon by one million euros. The operation strives to support the local hospitals and offer aid to the injured, for example.
The Red Cross started its aid operations in Beirut immediately after the explosion. The Lebanese Red Cross quickly commissioned more than 75 ambulances and 375 paramedics from ambulance services around the country in order to transport the injured people to hospitals and also set up temporary first aid stations in the city. The Blood Service collected blood donations for the hospitals.
The Red Cross has also delivered medication and medical supplies to 12 hospitals in Beirut and is now reviewing the city’s more long-term needs. Additionally, the Red Cross is helping families find their lost family members and arranging temporary accommodation for people who lost their homes.
“Support from Finland to Red Cross operations in Lebanon is vital. Even before the destruction caused by the explosion, the country was battling severe financial problems as well as the consequences caused by the coronavirus pandemic. These funds enable emergency aid, but they will also be used to support the reconstruction that will be sorely needed,” says Tiina Saarikoski, the Head of International Disaster Management at the Finnish Red Cross.
Help will be needed for a long time – support is crucial for reconstruction
The explosion that occurred at the port of Beirut last Tuesday caused massive destruction. At least 150 people have died and 5,000 were injured. An estimated 300,000 people are now homeless due to the explosion.
“Nearly all buildings in the centre of Beirut are damaged and many families have lost everything. Few of them have good insurance coverage and the country does not have an unemployment allowance system or much in the way of social benefits,” says Kaisa Rouvinen, the Finnish Red Cross’s regional representative of the Middle East.
Lebanon will now require both immediate aid and long-term support for reconstruction.
“It is important to work in a systematic way and ensure that the most vulnerable people also have the chance to rebuild their lives,” Kaisa Rouvinen says.
Through its history, Lebanon has faced conflicts, terrorism and political crises. Air pollution, a financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic are all part of the country's current day-to-day life.
“Lebanon is also prepared for earthquakes, but the extent of this disaster in the middle of the beautiful city of Beirut took everyone by surprise. Recovery will take time, and Lebanon needs international support,” says the regional representative Kaisa Rouvinen.
Over the years, the Finnish Red Cross has helped the Lebanese Red Cross strengthen its catastrophe preparedness and develop its work in Syrian refugee camps. This spring, Finland sent a container full of tents and other temporary accommodation equipment to Lebanon, and they have now been taken into use.