Habitat for Humanity and Catholic Relief Services to support households affected by Beirut Blast

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BEIRUT (Nov. 19, 2020) - Habitat for Humanity International and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the humanitarian and development organization of the U.S. Catholic church, have partnered to rehabilitate homes destroyed by the deadly blast that ripped through Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020.

Officials estimate that at least 170,000 people in the Lebanese capital live in homes that need to be repaired or reconstructed. According to damage assessments, some 52,000 apartments bear minor damage, including shattered windows, doors and façades. Approximately 14,000 apartments show moderate damage but still enough that residents cannot safely return to their homes.

Habitat for Humanity and CRS will support families whose homes suffered minor or moderate damage. The two partners will provide both financial and technical assistance to a selection of local nonprofit organizations focused on shelter rehabilitation. With a track record in effective disaster response interventions, the agencies will ensure quality and timely response to the immediate needs of 250 affected households. "We will assess damaged structures for overall safety. Our interventions will include fixing aluminum window frames, replacing shattered windows and broken doors and ensuring families are able to stay warm especially as we are approaching winter," says Rami Bou-Reslan, a Habitat for Humanity engineer. "We have carefully developed our selection criteria to ensure we prioritize female-headed households and houses occupied by elderly residents with little or no support."

Partners will also advocate for housing, land and property rights, ensuring the affected families are aware of their rights and reducing the risk of forced evictions. All efforts are closely coordinated with the UN-led Shelter Sector Working Group and the Forward Emergency Room (FER), established by the Lebanese Army. They will also engage local authorities such as municipalities and relevant officials to support urban recovery activities and broader community efforts.

Lebanon is facing a multi-faceted crisis. Approximately 1 million of the country's 6.8 million people live below the poverty line. Lebanon is host to an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees, placing extreme pressure on essential services. At the end of 2019, the country went through an economic and financial crisis resulting in the government resignation. Economic and political chaos sent poverty levels up and placed extreme pressure on vulnerable families struggling to secure food, water, electricity, healthcare and education. The COVID-19 pandemic complicated matters even further.

Habitat for Humanity has been working in Lebanon since 2001. The organization has supported housing microfinance and shelter for orphans and other vulnerable groups. In response to the Syrian refugee crisis, Habitat completed home repairs and renovated unfinished buildings for both refugee families and host communities in Lebanon.

From 1975 to 1990, Catholic Relief Services provided assistance to affected communities in Lebanon during the civil war. In 2006, CRS once again began work in Lebanon, assisting people affected by conflict. Since then, it has worked in partnership with Caritas Lebanon and other local agencies to support migrant workers and refugees, provide education, respond to emergencies, and strengthen the capacity of partners.